By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A math professor, a former mayor and a once-recalled council member are among five applicants for a vacant Cotati Council seat.
The two others are a self-employed business consultant and a former planning commission chairwoman.
The council is poised to act Wednesday night to fill its empty fifth seat, which was vacated when Councilman Robert Coleman-Senghor died of a torn aorta April 9.
Councilman Mark Landman, who was appointed to fill a vacancy, in 2009, called it “one of the most important decisions” facing the council.
The candidates are:
– Ben Ford, a Sonoma State University math professor and a city planning commissioner.
– John Dell’Osso, a park ranger and former Cotati mayor.
– George Barich, who was recalled from the council in 2009 after a year dominated by controversy.
– Linnel Hardy, a former planning commissioner and 2009 council candidate.
– William Strickland, a consultant.
Hardy ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2009 to replace Barich. In January, the state ordered her and former mayor John Guardino to pay $9,000 in fines for their role in channeling an illegal donation by Barich into Guardino’s campaign.
Hardy, who was campaign treasurer at the time, and Guardino termed the violation “a good faith” mistake. They investigated the matter and reported the violation when it came to light, they said.
Whoever is appointed will join the council during a period of relative calm compared to 2009, when Landman took his seat in the aftermath of the Barich recall and as the city prepared to launch a campaign for a controversial city sales tax measure.
The city, with the worst of its financial crisis behind it, is updating its general plan, a roadmap of its priorities for the next 20 years, and starting to focus on revitalizing its downtown.
“It’s important,” Vice-Mayor Susan Harvey said of the appointment, “because we’re on our way.”
The council clearly has indicated it wants to make an appointment. But it does have the option to call for a special election, which would be held in November.
A city report said the election would cost $22,400. Whoever fills the seat must run for election in November, when Coleman-Senghor’s term would have ended.