Backs to the Wahl

Who will replace him come January?

Who’s going to replace Larry Wahl on the Chico City Council?

That’s a question a lot of people are asking these days. The council will take up the matter at its Jan. 4 meeting and will have 30 days to make a decision—that, or call for an expensive special election, which ain’t gonna happen.

There’s a big push on to pick Bob Evans, the retired business manager who came in fourth on Nov. 2, just 128 votes behind Mary Flynn. The Chico Enterprise-Record has editorialized in support of Evans. Even outgoing Councilman Tom Nickell, formerly a big supporter of Evans’ political opposite, young farmer—and fifth-place finisher—Mark Herrera, has called for Evans to be selected.

On the flip side, many members of the council majority’s liberal constituency want to see another progressive on the panel. They don’t believe the council has any obligation to pick Evans.

We’re in uncharted waters here. As Ed McLaughlin points out in a letter on page 6, this situation hasn’t come up in recent years. There’s no precedent of appointing a losing candidate to fill a vacant seat.

Evans called me last week to remind me that I’d once written in this column (on July 1) that I believed the council should “simply agree to appoint whoever comes in fourth in the November election, when three seats are up for grabs.” He asked whether I still believed the No. 4 vote-getter should get the seat.

Not necessarily, I replied. In the first place, the original suggestion had meaning only if the council agreed before the election to select the fourth vote-getter. Besides, it was a stupid suggestion, as I acknowledged in my July 22 column, since it would be illegal for council members to agree to vote in a certain way at a future meeting.

On the other hand, I told Evans, his fourth-place finish certainly gives his application added weight. A lot will depend on who else applies.

Frankly, I think it would be a mistake for the council majority to pick a liberal social-worker type. It’s got plenty of those already. With their five votes, it can afford to increase the council’s balance and diversity by adding a member closer to Mark Sorensen in background and values than to, say, Andy Holcombe or Ann Schwab.

Interns on the go: We’re saying adiós this week to two excellent interns. Tyler Harbaugh has grabbed a public-relations internship with Chico Performances, and Andrea LaVoy Wagner has taken a full-time reporter’s job at the Red Bluff Daily News. Fortunately, our third intern, Vic Cantu, is sticking with us as a regular freelance contributor (he has a day job). Our thanks to them all.

Seasons Greetings Dept.: On behalf of the elves here at the CN&R, I wish our readers the happiest of holidays, whatever those holidays happen to be. For me it’s Christmas, and I’m a practicing Buddhist, so there! Merry Christmas, everyone!