The four sitting Livermore City Council members voted unanimously for an interview and appointment process, as opposed to calling for a costly special election, to fill the vacancy on the dais created upon Bob Woerner's ascension from councilman to mayor on Monday night.
With the results now certified, more than a month after the Nov. 3 balloting, election winners Woerner and District 3 City Councilwoman Brittni Kiick were formally sworn into their positions during a two-part council meeting via Zoom on Monday.
Before officially handing the reins over to his successor, outgoing Mayor John Marchand presented him with the ceremonial gavel engraved with the names of all Livermore mayors -- now including Woerner's.
"What a phenomenal wing man to have to help me out with Measure P, to making sure that we were able to fulfill the overwhelming will of the voters to ensure that the approved (downtown) plan continued to move ahead. That was a battle to get through, and the overwhelming will of the voters won out. I don't think we would have had that success had it not been for the strategic and doggedness of the vice mayor," Marchand said of Woerner before stepping down.
Woerner, Kiick and District 4 Councilman Bob Carling, who reclaimed his seat on the council after running unopposed, each took their oath of office during the second half of the nearly four-hour virtual meeting.
Their first order of business was appointing Councilwoman Trish Munro as vice mayor from now through 2021.
"We've had spirited conversations, and I think they've been very spirited at times, but I think we've learned a lot from each other and I appreciate it. And I'm looking forward to working with you in your role as vice mayor," Woerner said to Munro.
Munro's selection was followed by discussion on how to fill the one open seat on the council now that Woerner has ascended to mayor. Woerner ran for mayor this fall in the middle of the four-year regular council term he won at-large in 2018 -- which was the city's final election before switching to district-based voting.
After city staff reported that an off-schedule election would cost an estimated $1.1 million to $1.2 million (averaging out to about $19 to $21 per registered voter), the council unanimously supported an appointment process instead of a special ballot.
The new council member would finish out the remainder of the at-large term vacated by Woerner, ending in December 2022. By keeping the position at-large, the city is opening the application process to all city residents; although, the seat will be assigned to District 1 (northwest Livermore) starting in 2022, so the appointee would have to reside in District 1 (or District 2) to run for re-election.
The council unanimously agreed to move forward with staff's recommended timeline, setting the application period to run from Wednesday until 5 p.m. Jan. 1.
At the next regular public meeting on Jan. 11, the four-member council will screen applicants and select which candidates will be interviewed during a special meeting on Jan. 18. According to the recommended schedule, the newly appointed council member would take their oath of office during a regular council meeting on Jan. 25.
The council also looked at the draft City Council application presented by city staff and application questions collected from the council and the broader community. Upon discussing modifications to both documents, Kiick and Carling volunteered to join forces as a 24-hour temporary subcommittee to categorize and combine similar questions and narrow down the list to submit to staff in time for the application to be released by Dec. 16.
Monday's meeting also included public farewell remarks and proclamations for Marchand and outgoing Councilman Bob Coomber. Marchand was termed out this year, while Coomber opted not to seek a second term for health reasons.
"We've had some great wins in Livermore: I think of the Bankhead, I think of now Valley Link, working on homeless issues. So many things that the Board of Supervisors, myself and your city staff -- (City Manager) Marc Roberts has been a great help -- in just getting the stuff done for the people that we represent and I think that's why you and I and Bob (Coomber) got into this. And I think that's why Bob Woerner wants to continue as mayor because he wants to see through some of this work," Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty said to Marchand ahead of reading the proclamations presented to him and Coomber from the Board of Supervisors.
In addition to reflective comments from the other council members about working with both Coomber and Marchand over the years, several other remarks came in for Marchand from community members, former colleagues and other local officials, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's external relations officer Nadine Horner, newly elected Livermore school board Trustee Kristie Wang, schools Superintendent Kelly Bowers, Alameda County Supervisor-elect David Haubert and a pre-recorded video from Tri-Valley Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore).
"You've made this city better than when you first took over on the council and later as mayor but most importantly, you're just a good guy and I've loved having you as a friend," Swalwell said.
A complete recording of the meeting is available here.