We Need to Appoint San Diego City Council Presidents on a Rotating Basis - Voice of San Diego

Opinion

We Need to Appoint San Diego City Council Presidents on a Rotating Basis

Partisan rancor is alive and well at City Hall. My proposal of appointing Council presidents by seniority would encourage cooperation and curb the influence of special interests — on Democrats and Republicans alike.
San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman, a Republican. / Photo by Dustin Michelson

I’m a small business owner. I don’t consider myself a politician, although the Voice of San Diego vehemently disagrees.

Six years ago, I decided to take a break from running my business to run for City Council. My modest goals were to make city operations run a little better and more efficient for taxpayers. I had no interest in taking part in the divisive and hyper-partisan politics in D.C. and Sacramento; I simply wanted to fix local problems such as repairing our roads and balancing the city’s budget.

Voice of San Diego CommentaryMuch to my dismay, when I first took office in 2012, the same time as Bob Filner, I realized that partisan political rancor was alive and well at City Hall.

Filner is long gone, but the problem of partisanship continues. This is why in 2015 I first introduced my proposal to appoint future Council Presidents on a rotating order.

At the time, I included the idea in a memo to then-Council President Sherri Lightner to be placed on the charter committee docket for consideration. Again in 2017, I asked Council President Myrtle Cole to docket the proposal at an upcoming rules committee meeting.

Despite assurances to the contrary, the item was not docketed in 2017. This is why I and three other Council members requested that the item be heard at the full Council meeting this upcoming Monday.

In a nutshell, my proposal would reform the appointment process for Council presidents on a rotating order based on seniority. While this change may seem small and minute, it would be the biggest reform to the position since its inception nearly a decade ago. The reform would encourage a level of cooperation on the Council and curb the heavy influence from outside special interests that are found on both sides of the political spectrum.

In addition, the proposal would:

Ensure the most experienced member is leading the Council

Remove horse trading from the process

Increase the cohesiveness and unity of the Council as a whole

Institutionalize a bipartisan process

The rotating of leadership positions is not a novel idea. It is a common practice in business and trade organizations. In local government, San Diego County has an unofficial policy of rotation that has been quite successful.

Additionally, the city of Fresno has a formal policy of council rotation. Fresno is represented by a Republican mayor and a City Council filled with four Democrats and three Republicans, very similar to San Diego’s composition. The sitting Republican Council president recently handed off his power to the new Democratic Council president without any drama or ill-will.

I have a deep respect for all my colleagues who serve on the Council. We all come from different backgrounds and have different beliefs. What we must do is find a way to work together to find a resolution to improve San Diego despite our differences.

I believe this common-sense proposal will help us get closer to that goal and I urge my honorable colleagues to consider it.

Scott Sherman is a San Diego politician who represents District 7 on the City Council. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

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