WATSONVILLE — Faced with the resignation of Oscar Rios, the Watsonville City Council on Tuesday moved forward with putting the vacant District 2 seat on the June ballot.

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will now consider approving the request to consolidate the special election with the June 5 primary.

On Monday, Rios, who was elected to the council in 2016, announced his resignation following allegations from two women that he sexually assaulted them in the 1980s.

The Watsonville City Charter requires a vacant council seat to be filled within 90 days through a special election.

But that would have meant the special election would take place on May 22 at the latest, according to City Attorney Alan Smith, only two weeks before the June 5 primary.

City officials met with Rios soon after his announcement to suggest he change his resignation date to March 7, so the election could be held during the primary. Rios agreed, according to Smith.

Smith said the consolidation of the election would avoid confusion for voters, and allow more time for candidates to file.

The cost savings are also significant, according to City Clerk Beatriz Vazquez Flores. A special election would have cost more than $9,000 in a district that includes about 1,900 registered voters, and that cost doesn’t factor in staff time, Flores said.

Consolidating the election in June is estimated to cost about $1,800.

“It’s a big difference,” she said.

The candidate who wins the election in June will fill the rest of Rios’ term, set to expire in December 2020.

June would mark the first time a council vacancy is filled by an election, rather than council appointment, following voter-approved Measure H in 2014.

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