RIVERBANK -- It's been three weeks since Councilman Danny Fielder resigned, but the City Council has yet to decide how to replace him and the clock is ticking.
State election law gives the council 30 days from Fielder's July 29 resignation to appoint someone to replace him. The council's other option is to hold a special election.
The council has tried to hold two special meetings this month to discuss how to fill the remaining 26 months of Fielder's term but couldn't because Councilman Jesse James White said he couldn't attend.
The council has effectively had three council members since Fielder stepped down because Dave White -- Jesse James White's grandfather and fellow council member -- has been in the hospital and then a rehabilitation center since June 15.
At least three of the five council members need to be present to hold a meeting.
"I would hope this is not intentional from Jesse," Mayor Virginia Madueño said.
White did not return phone calls Tuesday and Wednesday.
White, 21, and his grandfather often have been at odds with Madueño, Fielder and Councilwoman Sandy Benitez.
The council has until Aug. 28 to make an appointment, City Clerk Linda Abid-Cummings said. If it doesn't meet that deadline, it has to hold a special election, which could cost $25,000 to $35,000.
According to state law, they don't have enough time to schedule the election for the Nov. 2 election, and the next regularly established election date is March 8, Abid-Cummings said.
Madueño and City Manager Rich Holmer said it makes the most sense to appoint someone.
"It's going to cost us $25,000 if we have to do an election," Holmer said. "An appointment is a more sensible way to go."
Holmer has placed an item on the agenda for Monday's regular council meeting recommending the council appoint one of the nine candidates running for two open council seats in November. Dave White and Benitez are not running for re-election.
Holmer said Madueño has directed him to have the city call the nine candidates and ask them to attend Monday's meeting in case the council decides to fill the vacancy through an appointment.
"I think we are doing the best we can with the time constraints we have," Hol- mer said. "The mayor and I agree it's only reasonable to take a look at those people. Nine is a good field of candidates."
There is a full agenda for Monday's meeting, and there may be enough council members present to call the meeting to order.
Dave White, 71, will try to attend the meeting if he can get approval from his doctors, a family member said Wednesday.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.