Planning Commissioner Eric Bendix, who was appointed to the board to fill an open seat in August, was reappointed Tuesday by a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Luis Molina and Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten dissenting.
During the March 19 City Council meeting, the council stalemated 2-2 on votes to appoint either Bendix or Patterson resident Juan C. Gonzales, with Councilman Larry Buehner absent.
The planning commission advises the City Council on land use.
Molina said Tuesday that he wanted to appoint Gonzales to the post instead of Bendix.
He cited the candidate’s work as an associate planner for the Stanislaus County Planning Department and his experience working for the Stanislaus County Housing Authority, a nonprofit public corporation charged with finding opportunities for low-cost housing for residents.
Gonzales also has a master’s degree in public administration.
“What strikes me is his work with the Stanislaus County Housing Authority,” Molina said. “Mr. Gonzales could help us do a better job with affordable housing.”
Molina said by phone Monday April 1, that the disagreement about who to appoint was not personal.
“We have a highly qualified group of people willing to serve,” he said.
Councilman Dominic Farinha told fellow council members that Bendix, a real estate agent who leads the Central Valley Association of Realtors West Side Council, needed more time to prove himself.
“He hasn’t even had a full year on the commission yet,” he said. “We could sit here and debate the merits of one over another for hours.”
Farinha said by phone this week and at the council meeting Tuesday that Bendix’s real estate experience was invaluable.
“He’s going to provide a critical eye to those decisions that come to the council,” he said by phone Monday, April 1. “They all bring something valuable to the commission.”
Bendix, who was reached at his home Tuesday night, said he did not know why Molina and Lustgarten did not vote for him, but he was glad to be reappointed.
Gonzales was not sure why he was not chosen.
“I guess they think he’s a better fit because of his background in real estate,” he said. “If there’s another opening, yeah, I’ll look into it.”
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