Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/23/2011 04:55:31 PM PST

UPLAND – The resignation of Mayor John “JP” Pomierski has left the City Council with the task of filling his vacancy.

Pomierski tendered his resignation without explanation on Tuesday, leaving the city’s highest elected office empty.

He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The council is reviewing its options and will hold an open discussion during Monday’s meeting at City Hall.

It has 60 days to make a decision.

To fill the vacancy, the council can either appoint a mayor or decide to hold a special election so voters can determine the city’s next leader.

“It’s going to be in the public with each council member being able to express their views,” said acting Mayor Brendan Brandt.

Pomierski, who was first elected as mayor in 2000, resigned eight months after FBI and IRS agents confiscated records from City Hall and Pomierski’s home office.

They also took records from J.H. Builders in Upland and Venture West Capital in Rancho Cucamonga.

A search warrant for Pomierski’s cell phone sought records as evidence of violations including racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, bribery, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering.

Brandt said he is concerned with the potential cost associated with holding a special election.

“I’ve been told by city staff, although the number hasn’t been officially vetted by the county, that there is an estimated cost of $150,000,” Brandt said. “That’s a lot of fireman salaries or police officers on the street for a relatively short period of time.”

Pomierski’s term is up in December 2012.

“Probably the earliest the election could be held is July or August by the time we do the nomination papers and all those types of things,” Brandt said.

Brandt was named mayor pro tem in January. He said if the council suggested he finish out Pomierski’s term as mayor then he would strongly consider it.

“I believe they all showed confidence in my ability to fill in for the mayor in January, but I’m going to keep a very open mind,” Brandt said.

“I think we just want to provide some stability for the residents of Upland at this critical time.”

Councilman Ray Musser ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2004 and 2008 against Pomierski but has not made a decision whether to pursue the mayoral seat.

“I’m not saying yes or no,” he said. “I’m open. That’s a fair question.”

He has been a councilman since 1998.

“I had run twice against the mayor because I felt strongly we could go in a better direction and have a more open government,” Musser said. “I’m hoping we will do more of that starting immediately.”

He said he would like to hear input from Upland residents and is keeping his mind open.

“What I’ve been hearing is please don’t spend $150,000 to decide the leadership for a year and a half, that we have enough good leaders that have surfaced in our community,” Musser said. “But I’m open as to who, I’m open to even the process of how to pick them.”

Councilman Ken Willis said if the council were to appoint a mayor, it would have to be a member of the council, he said.

“But I’m going into the process with my mind wide open,” he said.

Willis would not name any possible candidates, but said he’s sure there are several good ones.

“I would prefer the public believes that we’re going to try to have a transparent process and no inside fixes,” he said.

The city has made inquiries to surrounding communities as to how they have filled council vacancies, he said.

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