SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | The San Leandro City Council is whole once again following the appointment of city planning commissioner Tom Dlugosh to the seat vacated last month by former Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak.

Dlugosh, an 18-year veteran of the planning commissioner and former San Leandro police officer, received four of the six votes on the council during a special meeting Thursday night. Dlugosh was the expected front runner for the seat after being the only applicant to receives all six votes last week during the winnowing process.

After receiving the support of Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilmembers Michael Gregory and Pauline Cutter, Dlugosh clinched the appointment in the second round of voting when Jim Prola switched his vote from former Mayor John Faria in the first round to Dlugosh. Diana Souza and Ursula Reed maintained their votes for Charles Kane in the subsequent round.

The selection of Dlugosh ends the council’s month-long search to replace Starosciak, who abruptly resigned during a meeting in late July, citing residual sadness following her loss two-years ago during the 2010 mayoral race. Starosciak has since re-located to the Sacramento area, however, she never officially resigned until the middle of the last month. Starosciak, though, had only months remaining on her second and final term, leaving the council to search for a replacement to effectively become a placeholder until voter elect a new council member in November.

“It’s a temporary position, so it’s not going to be a difficult transition,” Dlugosh said Thursday night. He also describes himself as politically independent. “I don’t have any leanings. I’m non-committed as far as party’s are concerned. I vote for who I think is the right person.”

Despite his short stay, Dlugosh and the council may have some difficult decisions before the end of his term on Dec. 31. They may include a discussion of approving the installation of a private 120-foot wind turbine near the shoreline, contentious contract negotiations with public employees and possibly the future of medical cannabis dispensaries and grow sites in the industrial zones. He will make his council debut next Monday, Sept. 17.

On the Halus wind turbine potentially set to rise in Dlugosh’s District 4, he said, “I don’t have any position at this point in time, but I’m aware of the issue.”

Citing his background as a police officer in the 1970s as a factor in his opinion of marijuana, he said, “I’m dead-set against it.”

When it comes to labor, Dlugosh may make some public employee groups nervous, especially when it comes to pensions. “I think some changes have to be made, but I’m not quite certain what those changes need to be,” he said. “Obviously, we can’t continue the way we are. We need to fulfill our contracts, but I’ve been on the other side and I probably have a little different opinion than some.”