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Mayor selection proposal outrages many

ENCINITAS — The City Council agreed to put a decision on hold that would have changed the way a mayor is selected during a regular meeting March 28.The council voted 3-2 on Feb. 15 to direct the city manager to craft language for an ordinance that would have put the councilperson with the highest number of votes in the preceding election in the mayor’s post for two years.

The majority of the council, with the exception of Mayor Jerome Stocks, joined a chorus of residents who didn’t support the proposed language of the ordinance.

In particular, the ordinance would retroactively take the results from the 2010 election. Current Deputy Mayor Kristin Gaspar would then be mayor and Councilwoman Teresa Barth would effectively be shut out until 2016, provided she was the highest vote getter in 2014.

Sanford Shapiro, a resident, was incredulous. As he addressed the council, “This is like an Alice in Wonderland scenario,” he said. “You all up there are at the Mad Hatter’s tea party,” he said as he gestured toward the dais. “It just makes no logical sense, unless of course you’re trying to keep Ms. Barth out.”

“I’d like to ask all Encinitans if they believe this same proposal would have been put forward if Teresa Barth had received the most votes in 2010,” said Cyrus Kamada, a local resident.

Councilman Mark Muir, who initially motioned for the rotational process to be changed back in February, tried to propose that Councilman James Bond and Barth be appointed to a subcommittee to craft ballot language that would allow the voters to directly select the mayor. But Stocks said the current agenda item did not allow for modifications.

Muir said he would not support the current motion unless another option was available.

Bond concurred. “I just want to get an elected mayor for the city,” he said.

Stocks said he supported the motion as written and told Bond he viewed it as an “interim step in getting to a directly elected mayor.” As some in the audience began to boo in response to his comment he then threatened to “clear the room.” He called five minute recess unexpectedly.

After the meeting reconvened, Stocks made his case for the proposed ordinance. “It gets the City Council used to the fact that there isn’t an annual selection,” Stocks said. He indicated it would take effect immediately. “It never has been a rotation, it has never been fair,” he said.

“I think it merits additional conversation,” Muir said.

Barth thanked those in the public who spoke on her behalf before council discussion began. “This isn’t about me,” she said. “This proposal was Orwellian; I’m glad you all saw through that.” Barth also called the process “undemocratic.”

Gaspar took issue with the personal politics. She said the criticism of her as it related to Barth was “unfair.” She told Barth she was offended by a placard that Barth displayed and her failure to take leadership on items she suggested to be placed on the agenda.

“You keep going out in the media and blasting me,” Gaspar complained as many of the remaining audience members stood and turned their backs towards the dais.

The item was tabled for a later agenda as it became clear that it did not have enough support.



Cyrus Kamada April 4, 2012 at 9:01 am

The council majority’s original proposal may be in violation of the due process clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution. The potential procedural violation occurred when the proposed extension to a two-year term was moved, seconded, and voted on with no public discussion, then placed on the consent calendar where it would receive nothing more than a pro forma vote. The potential substantive violation lies with the council’s ability to make such a proposal in the first place. With a majority vote, the council could just as easily have amended the city code in 2008, declaring the appointed mayor to have a term of four years. This is a clear due process violation that infringes on the people’s right to free and fair elections. Whatever they come up with next, I think the city attorney should advise the council as to the constitutionality of their actions, and before it is enacted, it should be put to a popular vote. Yes, that costs money, but democracy shouldn’t be on a budget. My absurd hypothetical reinterpretation of the 2008 election is just an illustration of the problem of allowing a simple council majority to amend both the mayoral term and selection process at any time.

I’d also be concerned that this proposed community advisory board not be “stocked” with citizens who would simply launder” the majority’s wishes in a bath of public exposure. There is certainly a danger of this result with the ERAC committee.

No honor April 6, 2012 at 7:31 am

From article: “It gets the City Council used to the fact that there isn’t an annual selection,” Stocks said. He indicated it would take effect immediately. “It never has been a rotation, it has never been fair,” he said.
There is no doubt Mr Stocks knew this statment was not true when he made it.
Again, Mr Stocks shows a lack of honor and an effort to deceive the public for his benefit.

Violet Cadburry April 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

Gaspar made a fool of herself. Why was she so offended by Ms. Barth’s small little card — is it because Barth has supporters or is Gaspar feeling like a bastard? Wow, maybe she needs some self-esteem work. Calm down.

Dirty Dogs!! April 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Those dirty dogs on the City Council have NEVER had honor! First Cameron was gypped out of a Mayoral position, then after the 1998 elections Guerin, and Holz dumped then Deputy Mayor Bond in favor of making Cameron Mayor. Then in 2003 Guerin, Houlihan, and Stocks dumped Depty Mayor Bond in favor of Stocks for Mayor.

I’m pleased the devil Stocks is at least trying to eliminate the horrible annual personality play more suited to the sand box than a City Council. It’s overdue…

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