Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/19/2010 06:08:19 PM PST

GRAND TERRACE – The City Council will decide whether to elect or appoint the fifth member of the body at a special meeting starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The council was scheduled to decide how to fill the seat, which opened up when Walt Stanckiewitz became mayor, at its regular meeting Dec. 14.

But with two of the four members indicating an election was necessary to give the people a proper voice and two saying the city could not afford the price tag, they agreed to meet again after checking to see if that price could be lowered by scheduling the election alongside another city’s.

The county registrar of voters said no – the election would still cost $45,000 to $50,000, or $31,000 if the city used mailed ballots.

Seventeen residents spoke about the issue at the last meeting. Most argued the council should appoint Sylvia Robles, who lost November’s two-person council race by 45 votes. Five said the city deserved an election.

Council members avoided coming down definitively.

Councilman Bernardo Sandoval said he wasn’t sure the city could afford the election – which would come out of a General Fund reserve of nearly $1.6 million – but was sensitive to community members who thought Robles would form a bloc with him and Stanckiewitz because they based their elections on similar issues.

“I have talked to Sylvia probably on four or five occasions,” he said. “We have fundamental disagreements, especially on the school board.”

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