Santa Clarita City Council discusses mayoral election process

Marsha McLean is sworn in as the next mayor of Santa Clarita at City Hall Tuesday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

After a heated mayoral rotation in December, the Santa Clarita City Council brought up the mayoral election process once again Tuesday, this time discussing their views on whether a long-time tradition should change.

A vote was not required of the council members for this matter, but the majority voiced preference toward retaining the selection process that has occurred since 1999, where the mayor and mayor pro tem are decided by a majority vote of the City Council.

The discussion stems from the Jan. 8 meeting when Mayor Marsha McLean proposed that the council adopt a different rotation policy to “make it a non-political process for each person to get a fair turn.”

In her proposal, McLean said, “that each elected City Council member shall have a turn to serve as mayor pro tem for one year and then serve as mayor in the subsequent year.”

If followed, her proposed practice would have been enacted by the second Tuesday of December 2019, when current Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smyth would rotate as mayor and Councilman Bill Miranda would become mayor pro tem. In the following years, the council person who has not served as mayor pro tem for the longest period would be given that title and then proceed to be mayor the following year.

Upon discussion, Smyth was first to say he was “comfortable with leaving it as it was established in ‘99” but was concerned about the future, bringing up instances when seats were left empty in the past after he and former Mayor Pro Tem Dante Acosta were elected to the Legislature. He said, “Right now it’s clean among the five of us going into next year but what happens beyond that?”

Councilman Bill Miranda did not comment, but council members Laurene Weste and Bob Kellar supported Smyth’s position.

McLean reiterated the purpose behind her proposal, saying that this rotation policy would help avoid “surprises” and “political nonsense to embarrass the person that might be up next who is not chosen and to create a really uncomfortable situation.”

Kellar followed up and said, “I disagree. It was not political whatsoever.”

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Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga covers city hall and business for The Signal. She joined in the summer of 2018, previously working in Northern California as an assistant editor and reporter for the Lake County Record-Bee. In 2016, she graduated from Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles. Have a story tip? Message her on Twitter or at [email protected]