SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Near the conclusion of Monday night’s lengthy council meeting in San Leandro, departing Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak recused herself from discussing how the city will move to replace her after she announced her intent July 2 to vacate the seat. Monday was Starosciak’s final meeting after 18 years in public service. As the night’s final agenda item was announced, Starosciak rose from her seat, cheerfully waved to city staff and walked off as her colleague jokingly teased her to stay.

The council is now left with how to replace Starosciak as a politically dicey proposition arises for filling the seat for, at most, three months, or, until voters decide on a new representative this fall. Starosciak was due to be termed out this November, but, there’s one big problem: Starosciak never officially resigned. It’s this fact that could leave the council and city hamstrung over the next few months.

Strarosciak announced she was moving to the Sacramento-area later this summer, but did not give a timetable for her departure outside of saying it was in her teenage children’s best interests to start the school year in their new digs. Starosciak, who professed a love for San Leandro—she was born and raised near the San Leandro Marina—said the residual sadness of losing the 2010 mayoral election was too much for her to bear.

Councilwoman Diana Souza, Starosciak’s main ally on the council, said Starosciak will likely formally resign upon the sale of her home in Washington Manor. “What I’m concerned about is we don’t have a statement that she is quitting,” said Mayor Stephen Cassidy. “I think if we have a conversation with her, I think we can succeed,” Souza added later after it became clear the council would be unable to proceed with creating a timeline for replacing Starosciak, since she never officially resigned.

There are two ways Starosciak could make it official, according to City Clerk Marian Handa. She could deliver a resignation letter or alert the city she has in fact changed her address to somewhere outside of the city. Even with a working schedule to advertise the open seat, procure candidates, interview them and make an appointment, a new council member would not be seated until September at the earliest. In addtion, the council, like others in the East Bay, will be on recess in August. The uncertainty over when to become the search will only push the schedule closer to October and leave the appointee to serve for only a short time.

What is clear, from Monday’s discussion, is that the council will indeed make an appointment and not conduct a special election. Some members were seeking to combine a special election with the November 6 general election. City Manager Jayne Williams said do so would violate the city’s charter. A special meeting may be held following the August recess during the week of Sept. 10 to revisit the appointment process, said Cassidy.

The list of possible applicants for the appointment may include two candidates slated to be on the ballot in November. Benny Lee and Chris Crow both told The Citizen Monday night they intend to apply for the appointment. Similar to the appointment process that occurred last June at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to replace Nadia Lockyer, there may be some consternation over selecting a stated candidate for the seat. Doing so, some believe, will give the appointee a distinct advantage as an incumbent, if they chose to run in the November elections. Instead, the council may be interested in applicants more suited to act as a caretaker.

Other than Lee, Crow and possibly the third stated candidate, Darlene Daevu, the list of possible applicants include, former Councilman Bob Glaze; Bob Leigh and Marty Lantz from the Washington Manor Homeowners Association; and Mike Mahoney, who ran against Starosciak for the seat in 2004.