It seems selecting Santa Monica’s mayor has become more divisive and potentially damaging to the collegiality on the dais than the mostly-ceremonial position deserves. The latest round in which Richard Bloom was named mayor for the third time for obvious political reasons while Councilman Kevin McKeown was once again snubbed even though he received the most votes in the latest election was apparently the last straw for Councilman Bobby Shriver.
Shriver is expected on Tuesday to propose a change to the selection process for mayor, presumably suggesting taking the power away from the council and giving it to the voters. Several have suggested allowing the voters to select a mayor or using a process in which the person who received the most votes in the most recent election be automatically appointed mayor. On paper this looks to be more democratic.
The Daily Press supports a change and we’ve said so here before. However, in the interest of fairness, we’re not sure the system should be changed to where those who receive the most votes in the most recent election are automatically selected as mayor, and here’s why: From 2004 to 2010, the candidate receiving the most votes was either Shriver (2004, 2008) or Kevin McKeown (2006, 2010). Pam O’Connor ruled in 2002 and in 1998. With a system relying on votes cast, McKeown, Shriver and O’Connor would have occupied the mayor’s seat and no other Council member would have had a chance.
Now that sounds kind of like the system already in place. We think a better system would be one that selects the mayor on a rotating basis. It could be based on seniority or by alphabetical order. The council could decide where to start and then let the city clerk take it from there. That way the council members still have some say, however, their influence would be greatly reduced. Voters would still have a say in that they are the ones selecting the members of the council.
We think this is the most equitable way to select the mayor and would go a long way in healing hurt feelings on the dais and prevent future acrimony. While the Daily Press would miss writing stories speculating on who the next mayor will be, we can live without the drama.