Dunsmuir will have to wait a week to see if a decision to fill an open seat on its City Council will go to the voters in November.

Dunsmuir will have to wait a week to see if a decision to fill an open seat on its City Council will go to the voters in November.

During a special meeting Tuesday of last week, councilors voted unanimously 4-0 to review another slate of applicants for the seat during a special meeting March 14. This action followed the council’s rejection of three candidates interviewed in session that evening.

A seat opened on the council when Diane Dolf resigned last month. Those wishing to be considered for appointment need to submit a letter of interest to City Hall by next Tuesday, March 12 by 4 p.m. If no decision can be reached at the next round, the council will have to call for the election.

Applicants Richard Kelby, Leslie Wilde and David Edmondson fielded questions for an hour and a half during last week’s meeting but did not receive the three council votes needed to fill the open seat.

Council member Ed Steele nominated Leslie Wilde and councilor Dave Keisler seconded. Council member Nick Mitchell and Mayor Chris Raine voted “No.”

Michell nominated Kelby and Edmondson. Neither received a second.

Keisler said he preferred a woman take the empty seat. He said he’d heard from women in town asking him if the council were going to fill it with a woman. “Ms. Dolf was a woman. I think we should replace her with a woman,” he said when questioned on his stance by audience member Mike Lucia.

After the meeting Keisler said that until women in town began contacting him, “I didn't realize that there was such an outcry for that. They want representation. I did consider Richard’s and David’s qualifications. I think Richard would make an outstanding city councilman. However, I feel that man is already in the best position for this town as planning commissioner.”

City manager Brenda Bains said during the meeting that the council could go through the application process again or call an election. She said a deadline loomed for councilors to decide between one or the other. They have until March 28, which is 60 days from the date Dolf resigned. The cost of a special election was estimated at $8,000 to $10,000.

Mitchell moved to schedule an election. After some discussion among councilors, he rescinded this motion. Steele made the motion to call for interviewing a new round of candidates at a special meeting.

A council divided

In his nomination, Steele lauded Wilde for her attempts to win a seat on the council in the last three elections. “Last election, she got the third highest number of votes for the two seats,” he said. He noted that neither of the other two candidates had pursued the position as Wilde had.

After his second, Keisler said, “I would want her on the council. I have found that if you want to know something or get something done, you go to Leslie.”

Michell said he didn’t agree with giving Wilde’s performance in a previous election much weight. He also said “her facts are twisted sometimes.”

Raine referred to a flyer circulated by Wilde during the general election of 2012. He expressed concerns over allegations the flyer leveled at the City Council. One said the council banned dogs in city parks.

“We were trying to ban dogs in city buildings,” Bains said, citing a problem of pets soiling City Hall carpets. She said city code already forbids dogs in parks, stating, “Dogs have not been allowed in city parks for a long, long time.”

She said the councilors changed one word in the code to ban dogs from city owned properties.

Later, Wilde said from the podium that in doing so the City Council had readopted that entire portion of the code. “You had a chance to change it and you didn’t,” she told the councilors.

Raine said, “I think Leslie would be a good council person. This has been really difficult for me.” Referring to the flyer, he said, “I just can’t see in this light how she can claim that we pushed the city to bankruptcy with a frivolous lawsuit. Arth lost.”

“That was the other lawsuit,” said Steele. “Not Arth’s suit; the Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir’s suit. They said the Proposition 218 process was illegal. It was their battle cry during the election.”

In 2010, citizens CFBD sued the city after the council raised water rates following a public input process called for under California law. The CFBD also fielded candidates for three seats up for reelection and initiated a recall campaign against the other two. They won three out of four seats in the November election. The only member left of the previous council was Ed Steele.

Since then Keisler, a new arrival in town, was elected in 2012, displacing former CFBD member Arlis Steele from the council. That citizens group is no longer active.

Elected in 2010, the new council members dismissed their lawsuit against themselves.

One of the recalled council members, former Mayor Peter Arth, filed a lawsuit against the city, the city council, the individual city council members and CFBD, citing violations of the Brown Act and the FFPC Campaign Reform Act of 1974, a suit he said was based on actions the new council took in January of 2011. After two years in court, a Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the councilors last month.

During last week’s meeting, the first convening of the council since the court ruling, the two sides verbally sniped at each other, represented by Raine and Mitchell on the council, and Arth and the attorney who tried his suit, David Hicks, in the audience.

During council comments late in the meeting, Mitchell said he was frustrated by the division among the councilors, stating, “It’s terrible that we can’t even pick a replacement.”

After the meeting, Kelby said he will be applying for the second round of interviews. Wilde said she was considering doing so. Attempts to contact Edmondson were unsuccessful.