The question of what will be done about filling the vacancy created by the recent death of Councilman Jack Kelly will be the focus of the City Council when it meets today.
By law, the council can either appoint someone to fill the remaining two years of Kelly's term or it can order a special election.
The remaining six members of the council have been divided on the vacancy issue. Councilman Peter M. Green said he favors a special election, but four other council members have said they favor an appointment.
Those four members, however, disagree on when such an appointment should be made.
Councilwomen Grace Winchell and Linda Moulton-Patterson have said they do not think an appointment should be made until the new council members elected earlier this month take office in early December. On the other hand, Mayor Jim Silva and Councilman Don MacAllister have said they favor making an immediate appointment to the vacancy.
Councilman Earle Robitaille has been in Mexico on vacation and has not publicly said what procedure he favors in filling the vacancy.
If all six members of the council are present today, it would take a majority of four votes to appoint a new council member. Silva has said he will nominate Planning Commissioner Susie Newman to fill the vacancy. Newman finished a close fourth in the Nov. 3 elections for three council seats.
Some homeowner association and environmental groups, in behind-the-scenes politicking, are vigorously opposing Newman. Those organizations charge that Newman is too pro-development.
Winchell said Friday that she believes the City Council should set up a procedure for receiving and screening applications for the vacant council seat.
She said that action could and should be done at the Dec. 7 meeting, when new council members Dave Sullivan and Victor Leipzig are sworn in.
"After we set up the procedure, we could appoint someone by Dec. 21, before the holidays," Winchell said.