Council discusses new ways to elect mayor, vice mayor

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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The Folsom City Council discussed new options on how the mayor and vice mayor could possibly be chosen in the future during the Aug. 28 meeting. After discussion and debate, the council voted 3-2 on keeping the system mayor and vice mayor are chosen the same.

Currently, Folsom’s mayor and vice mayor are selected amongst the five elected council members each year during the first regular meeting in December or on the second Tuesday of December. This method has been implemented since 1990.

Following review and feedback by the City Council on April 10, this item was brought back for further review and discussion.

The City Council is currently elected at-large, opposed to districts, and once elected, each council member represents all Folsom residents throughout the City of Folsom.

Five options were discussed during the meeting.

Option one: the City Council makes no changes to the current system.

Option two: a modified election by City Council, meaning the mayor and vice mayor will continue to be elected amongst the five council members, except modified either limited service as mayor to once every number of years; extending the term of mayor and vice mayor to a number of years; or council elects only the vice mayor and the vice mayor automatically assumes the mayor seat after serving a number of years.

Option three: a rotational system, meaning council members will automatically rotate to the seat of mayor and vice mayor after a period of time based on their position on the rotational list. This rotational list could be like drawing straws with numbers one through five randomly, and whoever has the highest number is elected as mayor. After serving a one-year term, the council members are automatically rotated based on their ranking. The rotational list could also be based on the number of years of service, number of votes from their election, or meeting an experience requirement.

Option four: a seniority system, meaning council members will be selected for mayor and vice mayor based on their years of service on the council.

Option five: a top vote getter, meaning the council members will be ranked on the number of votes they received during the election. The council member with the most votes will be selected as mayor, and the council member with the second most votes will be selected as vice mayor. If this option is desired, council may provide a qualification requirement that newly-elected council members must wait a number of years to gain experience before becoming eligible.

Option six: a directly-elected mayor, meaning Folsom voters will be able to vote for mayor and vice mayor at-large. This option would require an amendment to the Folsom City Charter.

During the meeting, Folsom’s Assistant City Manager Jim Francis presented option three, the rotational system, listed above.

Council member Roger Gaylord said if the City of Folsom doesn’t have a directly-elected mayor, the council should use a rotational system so each member has training while going through the rotation, as well as given the chance to be Folsom’s mayor.

Council member Andy Morin said he could see benefits one way or another, but after giving it thought, he is defensive of the City Charter and couldn’t come up with enough of a reason to make a change. Morin said he supports the system currently in place, and if the future council, who will have a minimum of two new members, wants to change the system, they certainly can.

Vice Mayor Ernie Sheldon said he has been sitting on council for nine years and has never been mayor, so he is in support of the rotational system. He said he doesn’t like the current system because a lot of pettiness happens.

Council Member Kerri Howell said that everyone can agree the current system is unpleasant for all on the council, but it is the best choice for the city. She said she was hesitant to change it.

Mayor Steve Miklos said he has heard people say they don’t get to elect the mayor, but they do because they elect the five council members. He said he sees it from a corporate standpoint – someone will get promoted in some point in time and it is uncomfortable because everyone works very hard for the position. Miklos said he was not willing to make a change in that moment, but there is a new council coming and he wouldn’t want to give a new system to new people.

After much back and forth discussion and debating on the topic between the five council members, Miklos moved the item to leave as is.

The item passed 3-2, with Gaylord and Sheldon voting against it.