FREMONT -- For rookie Councilman Vinnie Bacon, the special meeting scheduled Wednesday to appoint a fifth council member might give him a sense of déjà vu.
He and his colleagues, including new Mayor Bill Harrison, will start by narrowing down a list of 10 applicants, some of whom competed with Bacon when he sought a council appointment two years ago. Bacon correctly predicted then he would not receive that appointment -- it went to Dominic Dutra -- because he did not have enough political allies on the council.
Now that he is on the other side of the dais, Bacon said he is not sure how the process will play out.
"It is a political appointment and these things can get political," he said. "I don't know how it's going to shape up this time."
Raj Salwan, a veterinarian and major property owner who is chair of the powerful Tri-Cities Democratic Forum, is considered by some a front-runner. Salwan lost to Dutra in late 2010. Unlike Bacon, Salwan received a vote from Harrison, a close ally.
Will history repeat itself? And will Harrison's newfound mayoral sway weigh more heavily than before?
Bacon declined to discuss the specifics of each candidate, but suggested that it may be more difficult this time for the council to fill the seat, the term of which expires in 2014. The candidate selected must get votes from a majority of the council's four members to be appointed to the position, which became vacant when Harrison
Sue Chan, recently re-elected to a second four-year term, said the council will approach the slate of candidates with fresh eyes. "I don't go in with any preconceived notions," she said. "We're looking for someone who can contribute their talents, experience and expertise, and who will work well with the council."
Other favorites include a pair who also competed and lost two years ago in a council appointment race: David Bonaccorsi, planning commission chair and partner in a Newark-based law firm; and Yogi Chugh, a planning commissioner and corporate real estate firm executive active in the Indo-American community.
Other applicants with political or electoral experience include Rakesh Sharma, a former planning commissioner who placed fifth in the recent council race; Robert Brunton, a former Ohlone College trustee; John J. Dutra, a developer serving on the economic development advisory commission; and Rick Jones, a retired Fremont police officer. Dutra and Jones finished third and fourth in the November council election.
Newcomers Tariq Ali, chief technology officer for the San Mateo County Employees' Retirement Association; Christina Broadwin, head of grass-roots neighborhood group Save Kimber Park; and Robert Chavez, a former longtime NUMMI employee, also have applied.
The large number of Fremont applicants contrasts with recent elections in some Bay Area cities, which sometimes had candidates running unopposed for major offices.
"We are very fortunate we have so many talented people who are willing to serve," Chan said. "That makes the selection all the more difficult. Lucky us."
The first special council meeting is scheduled at 4 p.m. Wednesday. If no candidate gets a majority, a second meeting may be scheduled for Jan. 14, when the council likely would interview remaining candidates and make its selection. It would be the third time in nearly as many years that a council member is chosen by appointment.
Under state law, the vacancy must be filled by Feb. 2, otherwise the city would hold a special election that could cost Fremont taxpayers more than $600,000, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.
What: Special City Council meeting to fill open council seat
When: 4 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Fremont City Hall, 3300 Capitol Ave., Building A