Once again Councilman Kevin McKeown, one of the most popular elected officials in the city for his commitment to community, was snubbed by his colleagues on the dais, the majority selecting Councilman Richard Bloom as mayor for two years (Council members Gleam Davis and Bobby Shriver voted for McKeown).
This will be Bloom’s third stint as mayor and it was obvious from the outset of Tuesday’s vote that he was going to be victorious. It was politics in its most pure form. It’s no secret that Bloom plans to run for the State Assembly in 2012 when Santa Monican Julia Brownley is termed out. Having the title of “mayor” on the ballot will surely help his chances in his first race outside of the friendly confines of Santa Monica.
By awarding Bloom the mostly ceremonial post (the mayor runs council meetings, helps set agendas, attends community events and gets paid roughly $3,000 more than council members), those who voted for him showed no respect for McKeown, who has consistently received the most votes in local elections. Here is a man who is dedicated to the community, attends countless meetings and responds to residents’ e-mails on the regular. While we like and respect Bloom and believe has does an excellent job of managing council meetings, to snub McKeown for personal (there are definitely some on the dais who do not like McKeown’s style) and political reasons shows a lack of collegiality.
If anything, Shriver should have been allowed to continue as mayor, having only served for roughly six months. Shriver showed he had a firm grasp of the reigns, kept the meetings moving and injected some levity into what can often become a tedious process. He was also successful in changing the way meetings are conducting, moving closed session items up, making them more predictable for those who wanted to attend and speak on a specific item.
The Daily Press agrees with Shriver, who suggested Tuesday that changes should be made to the selection process for mayor, taking the power out of the hands of the council, which would make the process less political. We believe the selection process could be decided by the voters, with the candidate who receives the most votes in the most recent election being tapped to serve as mayor. Or, to make it equitable, each member could serve for a year, going in alphabetical order. Many cities rotate mayors.
Our opinion on the selection process is in no way a reflection of our feelings about Bloom. As we said earlier, we believe Bloom has shown he has the chops to be a great mayor. We would like to see others get that chance as well.