Riverbank has decided to wait for an election rather than appoint its next mayor but only after a vigorous debate over the advantages of having the electorate, not the council, choose the mayor versus the high cost of placing the issue on the consolidated election in November.
Some local residents at recent meetings have advised the city of the unfairness of appointing a mayor who would carry the advantage of that title into the next election and city staff has recommended against appointment.
At a June 1 special meeting, the council split 2-2 on whether to appoint or elect a mayor with Vice Mayor Dave White and his grandson Councilmember Jesses James White both voting for an appointment and Sandra Benitez and Danny Fielder recommending an election. With the council hopelessly divided and deadlocked at the 2-2 tie, Attorney Tom Hallinan ruled the issue must go to an election.
Former Mayor David I. White recently resigned to take a job in southern California, leaving the city without a mayor and with only a four-member council. His departure followed only a few months after the resignation of Mayor Chris Crifasi, who also accepted a job position outside the area. White was appointed to fill Crifasi's post among the council members.
Meanwhile, Dave White and Jesse James White face a recall movement mounted by Riverbank Citizens For Fair Change, led by citizens Dorothy Nygard and Sergio Lopez.
The group needs to collect 1,800 signatures by July 1 to put the recall to a vote of the city's registered voters.
City Clerk Linda Abid-Cummings has advised the council it will cost Riverbank between $8,000 and $11,000 if the city joins November's consolidated district election. A special election would cost the city approximately $30,000.