COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- After two hours of interviews and discussion Tuesday, the Colorado Springs City Council announced its tentative choice to fill an upcoming council opening.
Mike O'Malley, 60, was recommended to replace outgoing Councilman Andy Pico, who won election last month to the state Legislature.
Five of the eight voting council members preferred O'Malley, but he emerged as the favorite only after Councilman David Geislinger changed his support for another candidate, breaking a 4-4 tie.
Eight people initially expressed interest in Pico's seat, but by Tuesday only four remained to be interviewed.
O'Malley declined comment until the council officially votes at its first meeting in January, but he clearly had the backing of Mayor John Suthers.
"He's clearly the most qualified," Suthers said. "He follows city government regularly and closely. He was the only candidate to call me, and call the utilities board, to ask what a councilman's relationship should be with them."
Some council members were displeased that several candidates appeared to be under-qualified or not genuinely interested in the job.
"One candidate couldn't even be bothered to be here on time," said Councilman Bill Murray. "Why would we want someone like that?"
Councilwoman Yolanda Avila appeared to support candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding, a former candidate for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, who was active in the recent Black Lives Matter movement.
"This would be an opportunity to provide some needed diversity to the council," Avila said during the council discussion.
Pico, who will serve in Colorado's House District 16, spoke after the meeting.
"I didn't get a voice in it," he said. "I could make my preference known individually, but it wasn't appropriate for me to weigh in, in public. There were four pretty good candidates. They all had strong points. Anyone they picked would have been pretty good. But I had a strong preference, and I think it came out."
Pico and Geislinger previously expressed that the candidates, if chosen, serve only the remaining term that expires in April because if they ran in the election they would have an unfair advantage over later candidates.
However, O'Malley, Spaulding and the two other finalists, Garfield Johnson and Marin Lewis are expected to run for the seat in the April election.
Because of the holiday season, Tuesday was the last time the council will meet until its next scheduled work session January 11.