Riverbank to mull over finding a mayor

RIVERBANK -- The City Council will decide Monday night how Riverbank will find its next mayor. That might not be the only empty council seat the city fills this year.

As Riverbank gears up to find a replacement for former Mayor David I. White, who resigned earlier this month, a recall effort is under way against council members Dave White and Jesse James White. (Dave White is the grandfather of Jesse James White. David I. White is not related to them.)

The council has several options for finding a new mayor: appoint one of their own, interview candidates and appoint a member of the public, hold a special election, or piggy-back on the November general election.

City Manager Rich Holmer says putting the choice on the November ballot is the best option. It's cheaper than holding a special election, and it probably would save the city from another round of bitter debate, Holmer said.

Riverbank endured weeks of rancor earlier this year after then-Mayor Chris Crifasi resigned abruptly. Some residents thought the mayor's job should have been given to former council member Virginia Madueño, who lost the mayor's race to Crifasi in November 2008. Madueño's supporters were disappointed when the council appointed then-Councilman David I. White as mayor, and appointed resident Danny Fielder to fill White's empty council seat.

That period of upheaval galvanized some residents into forming a group called Riverbank Citizens for Fair Change and starting a recall effort against Dave White and Jesse James White.

Citizens for Fair Change has until July 1 to collect 1,800 signatures from registered voters. If the signature drive succeeds, the city must hold a recall election in October or November, said recall organizer Dotty Nygard.

If the recall were coupled with the mayoral election, Riverbank voters would have an unexpected chance to reshape their City Council. None of the sitting council members was up for re-election this year.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at or 578-2378.