Council expected to choose next mayor Tuesday

Jason Gibbs, Santa Clarita mayor pro tem, tastes one of the chili samples as an official judge of the 10th annual Santa Clarita Valley Charity Chili Cook Off at MB2 Entertainment in Canyon Country, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 29, 2022. Gibbs is expected to become mayor Tuesday's meeting. Chris Torres/The Signal
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Santa Clarita City Council members are once again set to choose the next mayor at their reorganizational meeting for the 2023 calendar year at 5 p.m. Tuesday. 

Each year, the council members meet in December to determine who will be the city’s mayor, a conversation and vote among council members that generally follows a traditional order, but could produce a lively discussion this week in council chambers. 

If tradition holds, City Councilman Jason Gibbs, the current mayor pro tem, can expect to take the mayor’s gavel at some point during Tuesday’s meeting.  

Gibbs, who joined the council in 2020, is principal engineer of West Coast operations for GP Strategies Corp., which, according to his bio on the city’s website, included work on the launch programs behind Atlas V, America’s longest-serving active rocket, among others.   

However, who will be named pro tem — which, again, per tradition only, would then likely be mayor in 2024 — has the greater potential to garner discussion Tuesday.  

Of the current council members: Laurene Weste is expected to pass the gavel as the current mayor; Councilman Bill Miranda was mayor in 2021; Councilman Cameron Smyth in 2020; and Councilwoman Marsha Mclean in 2019. Weste was also mayor in 2018.   

Based on recent history, either McLean or Smyth could expect to get the nod for pro tem Tuesday.   

McLean, Miranda and Weste were re-elected in November, whereas both Gibbs and Smyth would be on the ballot in 2024. Recent tradition has also seen the council select a person who’s up for reelection as mayor, with Weste receiving the nod in 2018, Smyth in 2020 and Weste this past year. In 2016, it was former Councilman Bob Kellar, who was on the ballot. Weste also held the title in 2010 and 2014. Former Councilwoman Laurie Ender was also up for reelection in 2012 when she was mayor. 

The role of mayor in the Santa Clarita’s council-city manager model could be considered somewhat ceremonial, in that the mayor presides over City Council meetings, but doesn’t have significant authority that’s not also given to a majority of the council in most matters.  

The mayor is identified as a “leader among equals,” according to city policy, and the city manager goes to the mayor as the representative leader of the council.   

“The mayor should allow other council members to speak first on items before the council and then should state his/her summary,” according to council norms and procedures  

The city manager is responsible for setting the council meeting agendas, and any council member can put items on the agenda with a verbal majority of the council.   

There are some powers delegated expressly to the mayor:  

“The mayor should preside at each event on behalf of the City Council and should work with the city manager to determine who should speak at each event. If the mayor is not available to preside at an event, the mayor pro tem should preside. Council members could preside at an event if the mayor and mayor pro tem are not available.”   

During council discussions, the mayor is also tasked with recognizing speakers and given “primary responsibility to ensure that council members, staff and members of the public adhere to the council’s norms and procedures.” 

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