All seven Ontario city councilors are present at a June 3 meeting. After Freddy Rodriguez's recall, there are now only six councilors. (ANGELINA KATSANIS/The Enterprise)

ONTARIO - A vacant chair to the right of Ontario Mayor Riley Hill at a recent meeting signified a new chapter for the now short-handed Ontario City Council. 

The meeting was the first since the results of the special election results recalling Councilor Freddy Rodriguez were made official on July 21. 

After a short discussion on Tuesday, July 27, the council instructed Ontario City Record Tori Barnett to begin taking applications from citizens interested in filling the position. The interim councilor’s term would last from appointment until December 31, 2022.

The council's other options were to leave the seat vacant until the November 2022 election or appoint the candidate that received the second-most votes in the past election that seated Rodriguez. 

Councilors Ken Hart and Eddie Melendrez each expressed an interest in having Ontario voters select the next councilor, not the council. 

In response, Councilor Michael Braden said, “It’s very difficult in such a condensed time frame for voters to become aware of the individuals, their qualifications and their desires.”

The city’s Facebook page announced Wednesday that applications now are available at the Ontario City Hall or its website. Completed applications are to be turned into the Ontario Recorder’s Office.  

Applicants must be at least 18, a registered voter within city limits and a resident of Ontario for a minimum of a year. Anyone currently holding a publicly elected position cannot apply.

The deadline for applications is Aug. 18, after which the council will begin interviewing the potential candidates. The council will then select Rodriguez’s replacement. 

The council’s decision to fill the vacancy using this process mirrors its decision in 2020 when replacing Dan Capron, who moved outside city limits. After interviewing five interested applicants, the council appointed Ken Hart.

Hart was chosen to be the council president at Tuesday’s meeting, a role Rodriguez held previously. 

News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.

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