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Council Taps Jones Cruz
The five candidates that applied for the newly vacant council seat are shown here randomly drawing numbers for the order in which they would be interviewed, from left, Leanne Jones Cruz, Larry King, Ric McGinnis, Anthony Mckinney, and Carlos Verduzco. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Riverbank’s vacant city council seat has been filled for the remaining term ending in late 2014 by Leanne Jones Cruz, by appointment of the city council at a special Riverbank City Council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 26. Jones Cruz previously ran for a vacant council seat during the November 2012 election.

The seat she recently was appointed to became vacant after former councilmember Dotty Nygard announced her resignation at the Aug. 26 council meeting, with the resignation going into effect on Sept. 1. The remaining term will expire in December 2014 and the vacant seat reduced the city council once again to four people: Mayor Richard O’Brien, Vice Mayor Jeanine Tucker, Councilmember Darlene Barber-Martinez, and newly elected Councilmember Cal Campbell.

The City of Riverbank had just filled the council seat vacated by O’Brien after he was elected into the Mayor’s seat. The council of four then, which included Nygard, could not agree on how to fill the empty seat so they had to hold a Special Election in June. After Cal Campbell was elected into office the council was at full dais since it had been running with only four members since November 2012.

The council members decided to fill Nygard’s vacant seat by appointment through recruitment of candidates that had previously run for office in any Riverbank election, not wanting to go to another special election.

The recruitment process opened on Thursday, Sept. 12 and closed on Monday, Sept. 23. There were five candidates that submitted applications, Cruz, Laurence “Larry” King, Frederic “Ric” McGinnis, Anthony Mckinney, and Juan “Carlos” Verduzco.

“I was thrilled to see the quality of candidates that came out to apply for the position,” said Cruz.

Several others expressed that they were really impressed by the group of candidates that applied.

At a special meeting on Thursday, Sept. 26 the candidates were given a brief overview of how the interview process would play out. There was a random drawing that the candidates participated in to determine the order in which they would be interviewed. King selected #1, McGinnis #2, Verduzco #3, Jones Cruz #4 and Mckinney was the final candidate to be interviewed.

The candidates were then escorted out to a conference room and each councilmember selected a question that they wanted to ask each person. The candidates were asked the same four questions by the councilmembers. Once the candidates were interviewed by the council they were able to stay in the chambers and witness how the others responded to the same questions.

The public was also allowed to comment, but no one stepped forward. The council discussed each candidate and expressed who they would like to consider.

After the discussions, O’Brien made a motion to appoint King and councilmember Barber-Martinez seconded the motion. However Campbell declined and after a moment of silence and thought, Tucker also said “No.”

Campbell countered with a motion for Cruz to join the council and Tucker gave a second with the rest of the council then in agreement. With a vote of 4 to 0, the motion passed to appoint Cruz to the vacant seat. The formal installation of Cruz on the council dais will be held at the next regular council meeting on Monday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m.

“I am thrilled, I am kind of shocked, and excited about the whole thing,” said Cruz. “I am just thrilled that the council could make a decision and I was excited that it was me but I was just thrilled that they were able to come together and make a decision. So I would’ve been thrilled with any one of the candidates, there were some excellent candidates up there.”