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ORANGE : Council Members Set to Fill Vacancy

The City Council is scheduled today to appoint a successor to William G. Steiner, who resigned from the council earlier this month to join the county Board of Supervisors.

Nine candidates are vying to serve the two years remaining on Steiner’s term. All nine have been interviewed by council members in what Councilman Mike Spurgeon described as “frank and serious” discussions.

Spurgeon said the candidates fielded questions about Orange’s financial woes and how they would close the city’s $10.7-million budget shortfall. The candidates were also asked what they thought about creating a utility users tax and about how much time they could devote to city business, he said.

“We are not just going through the process,” Spurgeon said. “We are asking the hard questions.”

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The council voted 3-1 earlier this month to fill the vacant seat by appointment rather than by holding a special election. The council majority argued that making an appointment would bring the council back to full strength at a time when key decisions on the budget are being made. Councilwoman Joanne Coontz cast the dissenting vote.

The last two council vacancies have been filed by appointment.

Three of the four council members must vote for a candidate in order for the appointment to be secured. If a decision is made today, the appointee could be sworn in Wednesday.

Spurgeon said he hoped the new council member “can hit the ground running and get involved in this process.”

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