Menlo Park City Council Email Log

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Re: mayor selection in Menlo

From: Heyward Robinson <hrobi_at_(domain_name_was_removed)>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2010 23:57:36 -0800

I strongly disagree with Henry Riggs' email message below.  His interpretation of the Council policy on the selection of Mayor is faulty.  The policy, adopted in 1993, states:

"Council policy shall be to rotate the mayor annually.  The Council shall select as mayor an elected member of the Council who has served a minimum of one year and who has not served as mayor.  If all eligible members have served as mayor, then the member with the longest elapsed time since serving as mayor shall be selected as mayor.  In the event that there are two or more members with equal seniority, the Council may select any eligible member as mayor." 

This year, there are two relevant criteria: 
1) Service on the Council for a minimum of one year.  Three Councilmembers meet this: Fergusson, Cline, & Cohen
2) Since multiple  Councilmembers are eligible, the second criteria of elapsed time since service as Mayor comes into play.  Here are the data:
Kelly Fergusson - Mayor in 2007
Andy Cohen - Mayor in 2008
Rich Cline - Mayor in 2010
Kelly Fergusson has the longest elapsed time since serving as Mayor.  The policy is clear that she should be the next Mayor.

This policy has served the City well for 17 years.  Recognizing that newly elected members have much to learn and absorb before assuming the responsibilities of Mayor, the policy wisely requires the Mayor to have at least one year of Council service.  To my knowledge, no first term Councilmembers have ever become Mayor in Menlo Park or any other San Mateo Council City (save the founding Councils).  There is no reason to change this precedent.

The policy, most certainly in response to past disagreements, also creates rules to ensure that the process of Mayoral rotation will be as orderly and free of politics as possible.  Mr. Riggs' reason for bypassing Kelly Fergusson is purely political and just the kind of interference that the policy is designed to protect against.

Your stature and effectiveness will depend in part on how well you understand the City's history and respect the precedents established by those that served before you.  Get your term off to a good start by making sure that your first act as our new Council is in keeping with established policy and practice.


Heyward Robinson
Menlo Park Mayor, 2009

Henry Riggs wrote:
Council members,

The city "policy" for mayor selection should not be the lead  
determinant this year, as none of the five members meet the initial  
test of selection.

In particular, it is clear to the 72% of voters who supported Measure  
L pension reform that council member Fergusson, who opposed the  
initiative - she even co-lead the opposition - should not be setting  
city council agenda.  Pension reform remains the single most  
important fiscal issue in our city, and council must carry it forward  
with commitment, or a year of effort will have accomplished little.

Similarly, we should not have as mayor someone who opposes every  
major planning initiative in the city, as Mr Cohen does.

With due respect to "policy" guidelines, and the years of valued  
service of both the above, we truly need a considered continuity in  
leadership, not reversals: the choice of mayor should be from among  
council members Cline, Keith and Ohtaki.

Henry Riggs
Callie Lane


Heyward Robinson, Ph.D

Received on Mon Dec 06 2010 - 23:58:24 PST

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