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Lathrop council will decide how to pick Olivers successor
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LATHROP – The Lathrop City Council will decide at their next regular meeting how to fill the seat that council member Robert Oliver will vacate when his resignation becomes official on March 17.

The council has two choices on how to select Oliver’s replacement. One is by special election which could take place during the November elections. The other is by appointment, which is simpler and will not be as costly as a special election. Holding a special election could set back the city’s finances by as much as $20,000.

 There is, however, a third option open for the council, and that is to do nothing or take no action on replacing Oliver, City Attorney Sal Navarrete pointed out. That option is not in the statute; however, Navarrete said it’s his duty to inform the council of this other avenue available to them.

Before the discussion, Oliver suggested that in light of the city having “some very crucial things coming down the pipeline,” and in the interest of continuity, the council would be “better off to fill” his vacated post by the effectivity date of his resignation on March 17.

“I think we need a fifth voice” on the council, Oliver said.

He added that a special election would be “costly and too time consuming” and suggested that “appointment is the best option” given those two reasons, he said.

Mayor Kristy Sayles, though, referred Oliver’s suggestion to the city attorney as “a point of clarification.” Sayles said that as far as she could recall, at no time during her (nearly four) years on the city council did any sitting council member make that kind of suggestion.

“I’m not comfortable about this. What’s the law?” Sayles asked the city attorney.

Navarrete explained that the council can take no action on the matter “until the vacancy has occurred.”  He further explained that the council will have 30 days to appoint someone to Oliver’s vacated seat or to call a special election if they so choose.

The special election may be conducted in June, or it could take place on the same day as this year’s general elections in November. However, it would be qualified as a special election on the ballot, the city attorney explained.

The person either appointed or elected to the vacant council seat will have a short tenure since Oliver’s term of office ends in December.

Other members of the council whose terms are ending this year are the mayor and council member Dhaliwal.
This is the second time Oliver has announced his retirement. This time, he said at the last council meeting, his “retirement plan has finally come to fruition.” His earlier plans to retire involved selling his home, but since the real estate market took a plunge at that time, he and his wife, Vivian, decided to wait. With the market moving “sideways,” he said they have been able to sell their Lathrop home and purchased another in Ventura where they are relocating to be near their children and grandchildren.

“Ventura’s (housing) market finally caught up with things,” Oliver said.

Their new home is less than a mile from his younger son who is an engineer, and a mile and a half from another son, he said. Vivian also has a son who lives in San Diego.