Santa Clarita City Council to appoint 2020 mayor

City of Santa Clarita City Hall. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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With the new year just weeks away, the Santa Clarita City Council is set to nominate its new 2020 mayor on Tuesday. 

The reorganization of the council, which will include nominations for both mayor and mayor pro tem, is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. at City Hall before the council’s regularly scheduled meeting. 

Santa Clarita’s mayoral selection process is that “the five-person council designates one of its members to serve as mayor at the first meeting in December each year,” said City Communications Manager Carrie Lujan.  

Traditionally, the council gives the mayor position, which is currently held by Marsha McLean, to the mayor pro tem, presently Cameron Smyth. The two leadership positions then rotate among the council members. The sitting mayor could serve consecutive terms, however, as it happened in 1999 and 2000 when Jo Anne Darcy was appointed. 

If the tradition continues, Smyth would be up next as mayor. He was elected to the City Council in 2000, serving twice as mayor before leaving to serve in the state Legislature. In 2016, he was appointed mayor for the third time. 

“I do expect that the rotation will continue as it has in years past, and am looking forward to a good, successful 2020,” said Smyth on Thursday. If appointed, he would resume as chair of the homelessness ad hoc committee, in addition to serving on the SCV Sanitation District board and budget committees. 

While Councilman Bob Kellar, a four-time mayor who said this would be his last term on City Council, previously expressed a desire to finish his last year as mayor, he said he would accept whatever the council decides. 

A request to break the tradition was made before the City Council by two members of the public during a Nov. 12 meeting, both mentioning Kellar by name.

Speaker Max Morgan said with Kellar’s pending retirement, council members should “honor Bob Kellar by voting to appoint him as our next mayor in what will be the final year of his office.”

On Thursday, Kellar, said he would “accept and respect what my fellow council members decide. What I have admitted before is that I would have liked to end as mayor. The other side of the coin is that I will sleep well at night no matter what.” 

Smyth said he has “nothing but respect for (Kellar’s) service, and will respect the wishes of the council — but, at this point, I expect the rotation to remain as it has happened.”

McLean said this year as mayor “has been very rewarding. Unfortunately, there were some events that were hard, like the (Tick) fire and the Saugus High School shooting. That has been very difficult, but I’m happy to step up to what was needed.” 

She also served as mayor in 2007, 2011 and 2015, after first joining the City Council in 2002. Her fourth appointment to serve this year came following a heated voting process, after three out of five nominations were cast for Smyth, rather than for McLean, who was pro tem at the time. Eventually, the City Council held a discussion and appointed McLean by a 3-2 margin, with the outgoing Mayor Laurene Weste casting the deciding “yes” vote. 

The 2019 mayoral selection brought up a separate dialogue: What’s the voting process when more than one nomination or motion is made? 
This led to the council members’ adoption of Rosenberg’s Rules of Order, which was “modified to indicate that motions are voted on in the order in which they are made,” said City Attorney Joe Montes. “So if multiple nomination motions are made, they will be voted on in the order in which they are made.”

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