By Nao Braverman
At the tail end of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the scheduled reorganization of council members took an unexpected turn when Councilwoman Sue Horgan asked if she could swap places with Councilman Joe DeVito and serve as mayor this year instead.
Many changes had taken place for Horgan at home and in her personal life, with her children growing older, and she wanted to take time to focus on other things in the years to come, she told the council.
“Since I plan to conclude my term in 2008 I would like to conclude my term on a positive note,” she said.
Horgan promptly asked council if she could have the opportunity of serving as mayor without running for re-election next term, and otherwise upsetting the rotation system. She proposed that DeVito wait another year for the mayor’s seat and she would serve in his place. The regular rotation of government would otherwise be affected, she said.
Though other council members did not expect the request, Horgan said that she had been in contact with DeVito and he had agreed to the swap.
DeVito later he said that he had known about Horgan’s proposal when he answered interview questions about his upcoming term as mayor, but chose not to divulge anything because he did not want to violate the Brown Act.
He also added that he didn’t want to draw attention to himself or the situation.
At the meeting DeVito was reluctant to make the final decision and deferred to other council members, who turned the gavel back to him.
“I think it is a bold suggestion,” said Councilwoman Rae Hanstad. “But If Mayor Pro Tem DeVito were to choose to grant this favor, then I would support him returning to the position of mayor afterward.”
DeVito said that though he had been put in an awkward position, having already received congratulations cards in the mail, and an article on his supposed upcoming term as mayor, he would agree to the swap as long as it be guaranteed that he could then serve as mayor the following term.
City manager Jere Kersnar said that they wouldn’t normally be able to commit to a future council. But since three of the council members were sure to be serving in the upcoming year, there would be quorum enough to make such decision.
Other council members said they would support DeVito’s return to the mayor’s seat the following year.
DeVito agreed to the proposal. Councilman Steve Olsen formally nominated Horgan as mayor, and DeVito as mayor pro tem once more, and rotation was finalized.
Earlier Horgan thanked Carol Smith for serving as mayor this year.
“You did an excellent job. I appreciate your sense of humor, you always try to go for a solution. And I also think you have been very fair,” she said.
Hanstad chimed in. “I wasn’t sure about your fireside chat-style of governing at first, “she said. “But I think you have made people very comfortable which is why so many people have come to attend our meetings.”
Smith concluded her first term as mayor Tuesday night, Horgan’s term as mayor begins.
“It’s very clear that Joe was gracious enough to support my request,” said Horgan. “It showed the great amount of mutual respect that we have for each other on the council, and of itself, and I think it shows that we have a great year ahead of us.”
By Nao Braverman