Dublin Council ends two months of debate, chooses Wehrenberg for vacant seat

Former planning commissioner will take position vacated when Haubert elected mayor last November

After nearly 15 hours of public and closed-door meetings over the last two months, the Dublin City Council Monday night voted 3-1 to appoint former planning commissioner Doreen Wehrenberg to fill Mayor David Haubert's seat on the council.

Even Monday's special meeting wasn't decisive for the first hour as the council voted repeatedly on a number of candidates, either locked in a 2-2 vote or often without a councilman's nomination failing to even gain a second supporting vote.

It took three votes to make the decision and in the end Haubert threw his support to the recommendation of Councilmen Don Biddle and Kevin Hart to vote for Wehrenberg while Vice Mayor Abe Gupta continued in his opposition, casting the one vote against her nomination.

The Dublin council's ongoing debate over who should fill the seat vacated by Councilman Haubert when he was elected mayor last November has been closely watched and much discussed throughout the Tri-Valley where other city councils generally handle these issues more rapidly and often differently.

Pleasanton's council, for example, long ago decided against filling vacancies by appointment, choosing instead to pay the costs of holding a special election to let voters decide. Councilwoman Kathy Narum first won her council seat in 2013 in a mail-in ballot election after Councilman Jerry Thorne was elected mayor in 2012.

But the four Dublin councilmen said they couldn't support spending an estimated $300,000 to hold a special election or at least half that for a vote-by-mail election to choose Haubert's replacement for a term that will expire in November, 2016.

Most of the 19 speakers at Monday night's meeting agreed, although many also favored the special election option if the council couldn't reach a decision by Jan. 31. That's the date the council had to make a decision or give Gov. Jerry Brown the option of intervening by law and making the appointment.

Nine women and three men were under consideration for the vacancy. They included a number of candidates who currently serve on city commissions and committees, including several who had sought election to the council in earlier races.

Gupta favored Dublin school board vice president Dan Cunningham for the vacant council post, and he also nominated former planning Commissioner Lynn Do at last month's meeting, but she did not get a second vote.

But many supported Wehrenberg, including former Councilwoman Claudia McCormick. Councilman Kevin Hart said he had received 200 emails and many phone calls on the selection process.

The council wasted no time in seating Wehrenberg, asking City Clerk Caroline Soto to administer the oath of office within minutes after the vote.

Wehrenberg then took her seat next to Hart.

"I appreciate everyone's support," she said. "I also want to thank all the other applicants. It's been a very difficult time for all of us and a very long process."

Before adjourning the meeting, Haubert and others on the council reminded those in the chamber that a regular municipal election is scheduled for November 2016.

At that time, because the mayor's term is for two-year segments, Haubert will need to seek re-election, if he chooses. Councilman Hart will be termed out and Wehrenberg, who is filling former Councilman Haubert's unexpired term that ends in 2016, will also have to seek re-election if she chooses to stay on the council.

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2 people like this
Posted by Just One Opinion
a resident of Dublin
on Jan 27, 2015 at 11:52 am

Councils should NEVER appoint to their own - it is solely the prerogative of the people to name their reprentatives.

yes it's costly but that is the price to be paid for representative democracy - would anyone really want it any other way?

Like this comment
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 27, 2015 at 12:06 pm

2 months of debate????

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 27, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Any vote cast by Don Biddle is good enough for me.

2 people like this
Posted by Dana
a resident of Dublin
on Jan 27, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Personally, I believe that when a seat becomes available it should go to the next person who ran for the election and didn't win.

I firmly believe that anyone who “runs for an election” should be offered the seat from the beginning and we should not be throwing this can of worms out there for everyone who happens to “feel like it” to take a stab at it now. A simple question to ask yourselves would be, “IF all these other people wanted this seat so desperately why didn’t they run in the first place"?

For the future I would suggest that Dublin should do what other cities such as Alameda does when a seat becomes available whether that be on a School Board, City Counsel or otherwise. The City of Alameda Charter 2.7 A, states that, “Vacancies caused by the election of a Councilmember to the office of Mayor shall be filled by the candidate not elected for a contested Council seat who received the highest number of votes, provided said candidate received votes from at least 10 percent (10%) of the total number of voters”.

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Posted by another opinion
a resident of Dublin
on Jan 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

I agree that councils should never appoint their own. Next two years for Dublin council is going to be all about personal politics. There was some sort of collective effort by few individuals to get this member in the council, and those 200 mails/phone calls (if really true) mentioned don't represent residents across all of dublin.

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Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I agree with comment Dana posted. The vacant seat should have gone to the runner up in the most recent election, the person receiving the highest number of votes second to the election winner.

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Posted by Dana
a resident of Dublin
on Jan 29, 2015 at 4:27 pm

The good news is Michael is it did (finally) end up going to Doreen W. who was the runner up in the most recent election in the first place. However, it didn't go to her automatically as I'm suggesting it should of. They went through almost 3 months of allowing new candidates to run and then going back and forth on the voting trying to secure at least 3 votes. It was handled very unprofessionally and made the entire board look bad. It was as if they really didn't have a process. We could of saved a lot of time by doing it the way you and I suggested. I hope they learned a valuable lesson from this, and agree to a new process such as the one suggestion above for all elections from this point out!

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Posted by sleepless
a resident of Dublin
on Jan 29, 2015 at 11:52 pm

Congratulations to Doreen W but I don't remember seeing her on the ballot. There were only 3 people on the ballot, Abe Gupta and Don Biddle got elected. Wakamoto Lee is the third person on the ballot. When measure T passed with more than 80% of the vote, it doesn't make much sense to choose another developer friendly representative to the council. I read the bios of all the applied candidates and it seems to me that the best candidates never made it to the final rounds. Hope Doreen W. will prove me wrong and stand up for regular people in Dublin.

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Posted by Andy
a resident of Dublin
on Feb 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm

First of all, Doreen W never ran for City Council this time. I believe she did run last time and did not get elected.

The approach proposed to induct the runner up has its flaws. As sleepless mentioned, No on measure T passed with more than 80% of the vote. Wakamoto Lee who supported Yes on Measure T would have automatically got selected as council member being runner up and screwed up Dublin's Open Spaces must against what the residents wanted with No on Measure T.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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