Surrounded by family and friends, Marsha McLean was named Santa Clarita’s newest mayor, but only after a heated discussion among City Council members over the nomination.
During an extended special meeting Tuesday, McLean was officially appointed to the one-year title by a 3-2 margin, with outgoing Mayor Laurene Weste casting the deciding “yes” vote.
Councilman Cameron Smyth, in a unanimous vote, was appointed mayor pro tem.
Traditionally, the council gives the mayor position to the previous year’s mayor pro tem, which was McLean this year. That tradition was briefly at question when Councilman Bob Kellar first nominated Smyth, which was followed by McLean nominating herself, leading to the back-and-forth among all five council members.
“I just think that we should move forward with this, in the way it should be, and the mayor pro tem should go ahead and move forward,” McLean said, mentioning the tradition after she nominating herself.
Weste seconded Kellar’s nomination of Smyth, and Councilman Bill Miranda supported McLean.
With two nominations for mayor on the floor, City Attorney Joe Montes said the council would have to vote on McLean’s nomination first, as the substitute nomination, then vote on the nomination for Smyth.
At that point, they each discussed their thoughts before casting votes.
“All five of us need to work together, and if we can’t get at least four votes on the council for a mayor, then I think we ought to keep trying until we do,” Miranda said, casting his vote for McLean.
After first showing support for Smyth — and seconding the motion when Kellar nominated Smyth — Weste said during the discussion: “If Councilman Smyth would be OK with Marsha moving forward, I would be proud to nominate him as mayor pro tem.”
During the official vote on McLean’s nomination, Smyth initially abstained from voting, but then changed that to “no” after Montes said that an abstention counts as a “yes” vote.
“Of course, I’m not going to vote against myself and now I’m on the record of voting ‘No,’” said Smyth. “…I feel if you (Weste) weren’t going to vote for me you should have never seconded the motion and the same thing to you, Bill. If you’re going to say four votes is your threshold, then you should own that.”
“I have no problem with Marsha being the mayor at all,” he added. “But you have both gone against what you had said in your previous comments and now I’m the one voting ‘no’… it does make the city look very unprofessional.”
At the regular meeting soon after, Smyth suggested that the council adopt a structure, such as Robert’s Rules of Order, to prevent a similar debate. They agreed to bring the matter forward in the next council meeting.
McLean now begins her fourth stint as mayor, after previously serving in 2007, 2011 and 2015, and first joining the council in 2002. The mayor’s post requires duties such as setting the agenda, as well as hold a seat on the sanitation district and the budget committee. The position also holds equal voting authority as the other four council members.