Hollister council will fill vacant seat in November election

Honor Spencer resigned from her District 3 seat on April 19 and moved out of state.

On April 2, Hollister City Clerk Christine Black informed the City Council that she had received a resignation letter from Councilwoman Honor Spencer. On May 3, the four remaining council members agreed to hold off replacing Spencer as the District 3 council member until the Nov. 2 election.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am writing this letter of resignation,” Spencer wrote to Black. “I have enjoyed my time as a Council Member for District 3 and working with you and the staff. I will cherish our friendship. My resignation will take effect on April 19, 2021 at the end of the regular council meeting.”

According to California law, if the council were to appoint a replacement it would have to do so within 60 days of the date of her vacancy, April 19, or it would need to hold a special election. The council chose to replace her by special election, which by happenstance coincided with the date of the off-year general election, Nov. 2.

Black told the council on April 15 that the county informed her the cost for a special election before Nov. 2 for District 3, which currently has 5,416 registered voters, would cost $25,000-$35,000. She said there were several factors that would either increase or decrease the cost, including consolidating with other jurisdictions, postage, paper, labor, and even COVID-19.

The city, she said, would only be charged a portion of the election cost if it were consolidated with another regular election. The total cost of a consolidated election is shared across 30 or more jurisdictions, which would reduce the individual jurisdiction’s cost. Black said she was waiting for confirmation from the San Benito County Registrar of Voters that the council could legally consolidate for the Nov. 2 election date.

“If we can’t consolidate, the charge would be $25,000 to $35,000,” she said.

Councilmember Tim Burns asked if the council decided to appoint someone, how would it be able to assure it was someone from the district who district residents wanted to hold the position. No one responded directly to his query. Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said he preferred the replacement be elected rather than appointed so it would be a voter decision rather than the council’s. Councilmembers Rolan Resendiz and Rick Perez supported the mayor’s position. Burns went along with the consensus.

Black noted that because Spencer’s term would have expired in December 2022, anyone elected in November would be sworn in the following month and begin serving in January 2022. The seat would then be up for reelection in December 2022. After the council decided to opt for a special election in November, Black said she would return with a resolution at the next meeting, June 7.

A possible consequence of waiting until November, however, would be a deadlocked council, especially if an agenda item concerns growth. Velazquez and Resendiz have been adamant in their opposition to growth in most instances, whereas Burns, Perez and Spencer have voted a number of times in favor of developments, overcoming Velazquez’s and Resendiz’s opposition.

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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years' experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]