The Takoma Park City Council, fresh from appointing a new mayor, is set next week to choose either a former city official or a civic leader as its newest member.

The appointment, which fills the vacancy created when Edward F. Sharp became mayor, comes as Takoma Park embarks on a critical budget season, considers expansion of its recycling program and prepares to redraw council ward boundaries to accommodate population shifts.

While four candidates initially applied for the $3,600-a-year post, council members say the contest for the Ward 7 seat has narrowed to two: Juan Torres, the Cheverly public works director; and Kathy Porter, the research director of a nonprofit group and president of the South of Sligo Citizens Association.

Carolyne A. Pion, a writer for the Takoma Voice newspaper, has withdrawn her candidacy, and Verne Wilson, a nurse and former city election judge, did not attend an applicants' interview session with the council.

In November, Wilson applied to succeed Stephen J. Del Giudice when the three-term Takoma Park mayor won a seat on the Prince George's County Council.

A five-year resident of Takoma Park, Porter, 40, said she wants to work on obtaining a new bus route to connect her neighborhood with the Takoma Park Metro station, and would support a proposal for curbside pickup of plastic soft drink bottles and milk cartons. Porter serves as research director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit organization that advocates federal and state policies that assist low-income people, and is treasurer of the preservation group, Historic Takoma. She said she would resign her post with the civic association if selected by the council.

Before becoming head of the public works department in Cheverly, Torres, 37, served nearly two years as deputy public works director in Takoma Park. Torres is emphasizing his expertise in managing such services as trash and snow removal and his knowledge of Takoma Park's day-to-day government operations.