The following was released late this afternoon by Germaine Bell, a family member of Gary Bell:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 03, 2013


Health Prevents Assumption of Duties On January 8, 2013

RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 03, 2013 – Gary Bell, who on November 6 won election to Richmond’s City Council, will be unable to assume duties as a member of the Council on January 8, 2013, the date of Richmond’s swearing-in ceremony, due to time needed to recover from a current hospitalization according to his wife, Shelley Ross-Bell.

Within days after winning election, Mr. Bell was hospitalized with a severe bacterial sinus infection, in earlier reports erroneously labeled a meningitis infection. He has since undergone two neurosurgeries and is currently in a medical coma to allow his healing process to be enhanced.

In making this announcement Shelley Ross-Bell shares: “My husband’s prognosis is good, and we remain optimistic he will experience a full recovery. With your continued prayers, we are confident Gary will be able to address you personally in the future, as you know he would prefer.”

She added that while “Gary long ago dedicated himself to public and community service to improve the lives of others, his recovery will best occur privately in the weeks ahead. As much as he and his supporters worked to win election to the Council, we know Gary unselfishly wants what is best for the people of Richmond. On behalf of our entire family, we offer our regrets that my husband is now unable to serve as many had hoped. We thank each of you for your cards, support, love and prayers.”

About Gary Bell:

Gary Bell is President and CEO of Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union in Berkeley, California. On September 12, 2012 Mr. Bell was appointed one of 15 members of the Credit Union Advisory Council to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. His lifetime dedication to community service includes his term as a member of the Richmond City Council from 2000 to 2005. Prior to relocating to Richmond in 1989, at age 25 Mr. Bell was in 1985 elected to the City Council in Wichita, the largest city in the state of Kansas. Mr. Bell was awarded an MBA in Financial Management and Organizational Leadership from John F. Kennedy University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wichita State University. He and his wife, Shelley, live in Richmond.

CONTACT: Gary Bell, Jr. & Germaine Bell [Mr. Bell’s sons]
510 255 0397 / phone

Please keep Gary and his family in your thoughts and prayers. We hope that he will make a full recovery.

What will happen now?

Essentially, the City Council has two choices: (1) select a replacement, or (2) call a special election. Here is what the Charter says:

Sec. 10. (Amended at election May 14, 1963, June 4, 1968, and November 3, 1981) A vacancy in the Council shall be filled by a majority of the remaining Councilmembers; provided, that if such vacancy is not filled by appointment within sixty (60) days after the vacancy occurs, then a special election shall immediately be called by the Council to elect a Councilmember to serve for the unexpired term of the former incumbent; provided further, that if a special election is required to be held, the Council may, by resolution, consolidate it with an election of the City or of any other public agency if the next election of this City or of any other public agency is to be held within 365 days from the date of the vacancy. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy shall hold office until the next regular election in which Councilmembers are to be elected, at which time a person shall be selected to serve the remainder of the unexpired term. For purposes of this section a vacancy shall be deemed to exist if a Councilmember, without the permission of the Council, absents himself from all regular City Council meetings for 60 days consecutively from the last regular meeting he attended.

If the Council chooses to try an select a replacement, the process is described in Richmond Municipal Code Section 2.16.090:
2.16.090 - Procedure for filling vacancies on the City Council.
Whenever a vacancy occurs on the City Council, the City Council shall abide by the following procedure for the filling of the vacancy:
(1) Once a vacancy has occurred, the City Council shall announce that a vacancy has arisen; specify the date that the City Council shall hold a public meeting to fill the vacancy; and specify the date on which persons interested in filling the vacancy shall be required to file a statement of interest;
(2) Every person who is interested in filling the vacancy shall be required to file a candidate's statement as set forth in Section 2.16.080(a), but without payment of any fee;
(3) The City Clerk shall distribute the candidates' statements to the City Council and shall make the statements available to the public;
(4) At the meeting designated by the City Council for filling the vacancy, the City Council shall call forward, by last name alphabetical order, each candidate to make a public statement not exceeding eight (8) minutes in length concerning their interest in the position and the qualification for the position that said candidate possesses;
(5) After the candidate has made his or her public statement of interest in, and qualifications for, the position, each City Councilmember shall be allowed to publicly interview and question the candidate as to said candidate's interest and qualifications;
(6) After all the candidates have been allowed to make their statements, and after each of the candidates has been interviewed by the City Council, the City Council shall allow the public to make public comments pursuant to the procedure set forth in the Council Rules and Procedures for commenting upon a City Council agenda item;
(7) After the public has been given an opportunity to make comments, each Councilmember shall be allowed an opportunity to comment upon the candidate's statements and qualifications. Each candidate shall be allowed a two (2) minute rebuttal;
(8) After each Councilmember has been afforded an opportunity to speak concerning the candidates' qualifications, the Mayor shall entertain motions for the appointment of individual candidates for the vacancy;
(9) After a motion has been made and seconded, the motion shall be voted on by the City Council;
(10) The City Council will continue to entertain and vote on motions for appointments until a candidate obtains a majority vote in favor of his or her appointment;
(11) Once a candidate has obtained a majority vote, the appointment voting process comes to an end and the Mayor shall announce the date when the new Councilmember will be sworn in, but in no event shall the swearing in occur later than the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting;
(12) If no candidate obtains a majority vote, the City Council may reopen the appointment process to all interested electors provided that the process does not go beyond the time limit set forth in Article III, Section 10 of the City Charter.


Richmond Councilman-elect Gary Bell will not take office January 8 due to illness

Councilmember-elect Gary Bell will not take office next week due to complications from a bacterial sinus infection, which was previously misreported in news accounts as a meningitis infection, according to a press release sent out Thursday night by Bell’s family.

Next Tuesday, January 8, is the swearing in ceremony for the new councilmembers. Councilmember Nat Bates and Councilmember Tom Butt were re-elected in November—Bell won the third seat on the council with about 15 percent of the vote.

This was the fifth time that Bell ran for office in Richmond. He was first elected to the city council in 2000, and served until 2005, when he lost his reelection bid. In 2006, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor and in 2010 he ended his campaign early due to his wife’s health. Bell’s political life began early in Wichita, Kansas when at 25 years old he became the youngest councilmember in that city’s history.

Read the full story by Jennifer Baires at Richmond Confidential.