The Danville Town Council is holding a special meeting Thursday morning to consider canceling the scheduled November council election and instead appoint the two incumbents and one challenger who were the only candidates to file for the race for three available council seats.
The proposal would give Councilman Newell Arnerich his sixth term, Councilwoman Renee Morgan her second term and parks and leisure services commissioner Lisa Blackwell her first term on the council, with each four-year term to begin on Dec. 6.
Morgan, Arnerich and Blackwell were the only people to submit candidacy paperwork before the original Aug. 12 deadline. The filing period was extended to last Wednesday after 25-year Councilman Mike Doyle decided not to seek a seventh term in office, but no other candidates entered the race.
That left Danville with three candidates for three available seats.
The council will now debate whether to call off the uncontested election and appoint the trio, a move that would save the town almost $40,300 in estimated election costs, according to city clerk Marie Sunseri.
The deadline to cancel the election is this Thursday, according to Sunseri. Moving forward with an election could open the possibility for write-in candidates.
The town faced a similar situation in 2010, when incumbents Karen Stepper and Robert Storer were the only candidates to file for the two-seat race that year. Storer and Stepper were reappointed by their fellow council members.
When the council gathers Thursday morning, Morgan and Arnerich can choose to vote on canceling the election and appointing themselves to new terms, according to city attorney Rob Ewing, citing the California Fair Political Practices Commission's assertion that sitting council members do not have a conflict of interest for such uncontested elections.
An unresolved factor is whether appointing the three candidates in lieu of holding an election would create a problem if the new council ever needs to fill one of its member seats due to a vacancy by resignation or death, Ewing stated in his staff report.
When a sitting council member resigns or dies, the council could fill the vacancy by appointment or by calling a special election, but the state's Government Code says an appointment could not occur "if it would result in a majority of the members serving on the council having been appointed," Ewing noted.
He said state laws are ambiguous about whether the stipulation applies to councils with members who were appointed to full terms rather than holding uncontested regular elections.
"It is my opinion based on further research that appointment of the three nominees at this point in lieu of an election would not prevent the council from filling any future vacancy through appointment," Ewing said.
If the council approves of canceling the election Thursday, Blackwell, Arnerich and Morgan would be appointed to council terms running from Dec. 6, 2016 to December 2020.
A 30-year Danville resident, Blackwell has served on the Parks and Leisure Services Commission for the past three years. She also worked in banking management for 12 years and volunteered for more than 19 years with the San Ramon Valley school district, including several leadership positions at the school-site level. She remains active with the schools by serving as a substitute teacher in the valley.
Arnerich was first elected to the council in 1995, and Morgan -- who is serving as vice mayor this year -- was first elected in November 2012.
The special council meeting is set for 9 a.m. Thursday in the Town Meeting Hall at 201 Front St.
In other business, the council will meet in closed session after the election debate to confer with Ewing and Town Manager Joe Calabrigo about price and terms of payment related to property negotiations for 279 Front St.