The Woodside Town Council, normally a governing body of seven members, is now at six, where it has been since early March and where it is likely to remain until the election in November.
The council did not vote on whether to appoint someone to fill the seat left empty after longtime member Peter Mason resigned to concentrate on his professional interests, but the members made their opinions known. And those opinions echoed a vote taken on the question in April: five opposed to making an appointment and one in favor.
A notable difference: About 20 residents – up from two for the April meeting – showed up to listen to the council deliberations and participate in the discussion.
District 7 resident Mary Zverblis, one of seven people who rose to speak, noted that the district of some 270 households would be without representation for nine months.
The area's concerns, she said, include the unavailability of cable TV for 30 to 40 households, a scarcity of fire hydrants, and the "circus" that Old La Honda Road becomes in summer, with the road's steep and narrow twists and turns that are inviting to enthusiastic cyclists and drivers.
Zverblis said she chairs a group of eight District 7 residents who found three "serious" possible candidates for the seat. "We hope this WILL be a contested appointment process and maybe even a contested special election in November," she said in a written message to the council.
Raymonde Guindon of Sunrise Drive advised against an appointment, adding that the advantages of incumbency are "quite real."
Virginia Dare of Old La Honda Road, noting that council members are elected on a townwide vote, said that if she had a problem needing the council's attention, she would feel comfortable calling any one of the current council members.
Former mayor Dave Burow, who had been on the council for eight years, pointed out that Town Hall staff, not the council, are the people to call about problems like a shortage of fire hydrants. "The Town Council doesn't take a parochial view on any issue," he said.
An appointed candidate would benefit in November by virtue of being labeled an appointed incumbent on the ballot, Burow said. Most people don't research candidates and people do vote for incumbents, he said. "That's the way people are."
Of the approximately 18 messages the council received, opinions were evenly divided, council members said.
Councilman Dave Tanner noted that there are lots of places in town without cable TV, that Burow was correct in his analysis, and that Old La Honda Road rose in popularity after the town repaved it, making it smoother for the residents but also more inviting for the road's enthusiasts.
If there were an appointed incumbent, fewer people might seek the office in November, Councilman Daniel Yost said.
Councilman Tom Livermore said he was "delighted to see so many of you here voicing your opinion," and that it was "fantastic" that they've found people who would run for election. Only the voters can pick the right person for the job, he added.
Mayor Chris Shaw said that an appointment would be a de facto endorsement by the council for that candidate, and that the council would "put its finger on the scale" if it were to appoint a member.