Astoria City Councilor Bruce Jones won’t be going far when he becomes mayor in January — he’ll just move over a couple of seats behind the council table.
But his election to the post means his Ward 4 seat, representing the city’s eastern edge, will be empty.
It is a vacancy Jones, City Councilor Tom Brownson and incoming councilors Joan Herman and Roger Rocka plan to fill as soon as possible by asking people to apply for the position. They hope to be able to appoint a replacement in January to carry out the rest of Jones’ term, which expires after 2020.
Under the city charter, city councilors could have opted to hold a special election, but Jones said they worried about leaving the seat empty for months.
“The four of us all felt that calling for a special election would be very time-consuming,” Jones said.
Also, if the person who was elected was interested in running for council after the partial term ends, she or he would have to be willing to tackle two election campaigns in a relatively short period of time — something Jones and the others did not think many people would be interested in doing.
The city will solicit applications from interested residents in Ward 4 over the next few weeks. City councilors will consider the applicants in January and vote on who they think should take Jones’ council seat.
Anyone who is a registered voter in Ward 4 can apply. Forms will be available online at the city’s website and at the city manager’s office on the third floor of City Hall.
Nobody has approached Jones with an interest in the empty council seat yet, he said.
“I think we want someone who is analytical, who is able to look at all sides of an issue and debate in a collegial manner,” he said.
Jones particularly appreciates how no one on the current City Council seems to take other councilors’ opinions personally or hold their viewpoints against them, he said. It is an approach he hopes will continue with whoever takes over Ward 4.
“Even though we’ve had many 3-2 votes, after the meeting’s over, the meeting’s over,” he said.