Ontario City Concilor Susann Mills and Councilor John Kirby

New Councilor Susann Mills views the agenda packet on screen with fellow Councilor John Kirby, after being appointed by the Ontario City Council on Tuesday night. City Recorder Tori Barnett said she had nameplates printed for each of the applicants ahead of time, so that whomever was selected to fill the vacant seat could have their nameplate go up during the same meeting.

ONTARIO — Members of the Ontario City Council voted 4 to 1 to appoint Susann Mills to fill the vacant city council seat during their regular meeting, with Councilor Eddie Melendrez voicing his support for James Grissett, who was also recommended as a pick by the Diversity Advisory Committee and predominantly the candidate citizens voiced support for in comments made on the city’s Facebook live feed from the Aug. 24 meeting, in which candidates were interviewed.

Councilor Michael Braden was not present at the meeting.

The appointment comes for the vacant seat, previously held by Freddy Rodriguez, who was recalled by electors in July and will fill the rest of the term through December 2022.

Overall, there were four applicants, including Mills and Grissett, as well as Charlotte Cablay and McShane Erlebach.

Mayor Riley Hill first opened the floor for nominations, with Councilor John Kirby nominating Mills, and Melendrez nominating Grissett.

After the nominations were closed, Melendrez told council members that he thought during Grissett’s speech was “very visionary,” and noted that he mentioned wanting the council to “work together.”

Council President Ken Hart said that there were a “lot of capable people,” who put their applications in, while Kirby urged the other applicants who were not nominated to apply for vacant sub-committee positions.

Following being sworn in by City Recorder Tori Barnett, Mills got right to work.

Mills’ first vote on the council took place during a recommendation by the Ontario Planning Commission and Community Development Director Dan Cummings to annex the property of Malheur County residents Paul and Stacey Gehrman into the city of Ontario after they had to hook up to city infrastructure when their septic tank failed.

Following the unanimous vote, Cummings thanked the council and said, “I would like to be the first one to welcome the Gehrman’s as citizens to the city of Ontario,” which received a round of applause in the chamber.

In other action, Hill appointed Hart to the planning and zoning commission after Melendrez requested to be moved from that committee to the diversity committee.

Councilor Michael Braden was also appointed by Hill to the committee overseeing the Ontario Rural Fire Protection District negotiating team to which Hill said, “You better show up Michael” regarding being appointed while not present.

Braden, who was not at the meeting but watching online, texted City Manager Adam Brown and told him to tell Hill he would join rural fire; Hill responded telling Brown “Text him back: Bless his heart.”

The next City Council meeting is at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 at Ontario City Hall, 444 S.W. Fourth St..

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