When Kelly Fergusson resigned as mayor of Menlo Park a mere four days after being elected, the roar of the power vacuum could be heard for miles as those interested in the outcome scrambled to suggest replacements.
Councilmen Rich Cline and Andy Cohen emerged from the noise as the two most likely candidates for mayor, but the seat remains up for grabs to everyone except Ms. Fergusson, who said she won't stand as a candidate this time.
"We have moved somewhere outside the traditional protocol so I think anything can happen. As I said before, if my name is called I will vote for myself and accept the job as mayor," said Mr. Cline.
Elected mayor last week by a split 3-2 vote, with Peter Ohtaki and Mr. Cohen dissenting, Ms. Fergusson resigned on Dec. 10 following revelation of Brown Act violations committed as she lobbied two council colleagues for the position.
Despite Ms. Fergusson urging the council to follow policy in selecting a mayor last week, her resignation letter stated that now the policy should be suspended "because of the unusual circumstances associated with this year's mayoral selection process."
By the city's non-binding policy, Ms. Fergusson and Mr. Cohen were the most eligible to pick up the gavel, as members must serve at least one year on the before becoming mayor.
If the candidates have all served as mayor before, then the one with the longest time elapsed since holding the position gets priority.
That leaves Mr. Cohen, who, despite statements to the contrary -- "I didn't campaign for this position," he told the audience at last week's council meeting before the vote -- had asked the council and incoming members Kirsten Keith and Mr. Ohtaki for the job in a memo mailed last month that outlined his qualifications.
Mr. Cohen has not responded to the Almanac's requests for comment.
The mayoral policy has been ignored at least twice by previous councils since its enactment in 1993. If this council chooses to do so, all bets are off.
Both the position of vice mayor and mayor pro tem are filled by Ms. Keith until the re-vote, according to the city attorney.
Tonight's council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the civic center (701 Laurel St.) There will also be a closed session following public comment at 5:30 p.m.