August is going to be a busy month for the city clerk of Chula Vista. On August 7, the clerk's office began accepting applications to fill the vacant council position left after councilmember John McCann's deployment to Iraq. For the rest of the month, until the August 31 deadline, registered voters of Chula Vista over the age of 18 can submit an application for the job.
And while September will bring a return to normal workload for the city clerk's office, that won't be the case for the mayor and the three remaining council members who are tasked with wading through those applications, conducting a series of interviews with the qualified candidates, and choosing an interim councilmember to fill the position until McCann returns.
For Chula Vista city councilmember Rudy Ramirez, one of the proponents behind filling the vacant seat, he understands the work will be difficult, but it's work that needs to be done.
"It's difficult because it's going to be controversial no matter what we do," Ramirez said during an August 7 phone interview. "It is very likely going to upset a large group of people, but it's the tough work we're called to, and we're going to have to get through it."
Some residents, however, say the council doesn't have to make it so difficult; they can just appoint Russ Hall, the runner up to councilmember Pamela Bensoussan in last November's election.
"It's a situation where the people that voted for Russ Hall would be very happy, but all those who didn't would be disappointed," said Ramirez. "Politically, no one's going to win on this. It's not an easy task to take on, but it's what we're tasked with."
"The way we do it is we try to be as transparent as we can be," adds Ramirez. "We invite everybody that's qualified and have an open and fair process."
And while the councilmember is promising a transparent appointment, opponents of the plan, such as Ed Herrera of the Chula Vista Civic Association, say that's not likely.
Says Herrera: "Sure the interview is in front of the public and the vote is too, but the selection process will most assuredly be done before any meeting takes place. This opens us up to backroom deals and cronyism. This is the time when we should not be setting our own precedents."
Herrera also wants the council to consider picking someone that represents the fiscal reforms that McCann often pushed for.
"I can't weigh any political ideology," responds Ramirez. "[I'm looking for] somebody who will be independent and not constrained by ideology that, to me, is most important."