(KRON) — The Oakland Police Commission recommended seven candidates to be the city’s new police chief, it announced Monday. One of them is former chief LeRonne Armstrong.

The recommendations are the next step in picking Oakland’s top cop after Armstrong was fired by Mayor Sheng Thao in February.

According to the police commission, nearly 20 people applied for the position. The “top seven candidates” picked by an ad-hoc committee will now be shared with Mayor Thao, city administration, and the rest of the commission.

“After a rigorous and extensive national search, the committee has identified these candidates as highly qualified for the position, and they are recommended to advance to the next stage of the recruitment process,” the OPC said.

The process of picking the new chief has been controversial, and Thao said earlier that she would step in and call for a state of emergency to expedite it if it continued to drag on.

“City Administration has suggested extending the recruitment process and application deadline that had been approved by the full Commission. We do not endorse delaying this pivotal decision amidst surging crime rates and growing concerns in the community over the City’s leadership decisions on public safety,” the police commission said.

Armstrong reapplied for the job after an appeal of his firing was given a “favorable outcome” by an independent judge. Some Oakland residents have been vocally supportive of Armstrong getting his old job back.

The commission did not release the names of the other finalists. It recommended that a public forum be held so the people of Oakland can familiarize themselves with the candidates.

The Oakland mayor’s office released the following statement regarding the selection process:

“We thank the ad hoc committee for their service. The administration will forward these names to the executive search firm which is facilitating the recruitment and vetting process for the police chief. The application window is open until end of day Friday October 13, and the Mayor encourages all qualified candidates to apply.”

Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong also released a statement, saying:

“An independent report addressing my administrative appeal of my termination confirms that I committed no misconduct as Chief of Police for the City of Oakland.  This exoneration is vindication that I was wrongly terminated by Mayor Sheng Thao based on false accusations and false conclusions made by an outside law firm. 

“I believe that the Mayor should rehire me as Chief of Police based upon the clear evidence that I acted properly and did not violate any department policies. I believe that l should be considered and appointed through the Police Commission process as I have the experience, the desire, and the public trust and confidence to lead the Oakland Police Department and to address the surge in crime threatening our Oakland community.”