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Gloria Ousted As San Diego Council President; Fellow Democrat Lightner Elected

Photo caption:

Photo by Angela Carone

San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria and Councilwoman Sherri Lightner lead the audience in a pledge of allegiance during the City Council inauguration ceremonies, Dec. 10, 2014.

Despite more than an hour of public speakers supporting him, sitting San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria did not get enough votes for a third term. Fellow Democrat Sherri Lightner was elected instead on a 7-2 vote, making her San Diego's first woman to be City Council president.

Gloria and Democratic Councilman David Alvarez were the only no votes against Lightner's presidency.

In a statement released after the vote, Gloria said the decision was driven by "politics, not performance."

"While, of course, I am disappointed by the outcome. San Diegans know that I’ve never needed a title to accomplish important things for our city," he said. "I’ve always asked people to just call me Todd."

Photo caption:

Photo by Angela Carone

San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner is shown on the day she was elected council president, Dec. 10, 2014.

The vote was made hours after council members celebrated the beginning of a new term at an inauguration ceremony. Rumors had swirled that Republican council members wanted to trade Gloria for Lightner, and that Lightner was on board with the decision.

Council president's are elected every December by a majority vote of the council, and Gloria had held the position for two years.

Lightner did not speak in deliberations over the election, but issued a statement later Wednesday evening.

“I have worked hard during my six years on council to be fair, open minded, and independent," her statement said. "I've always been a voice for our neighborhoods, and I'm not afraid to go against the grain or stand up for the little guy. I'll continue to do my homework and make well-researched, informed decisions."

The vote for Lightner came after more than 30 public speakers stood before the council to support Gloria.

Stampp Corbin, publisher of LGBT Weekly, said citizens don't usually turn out for council votes for their own president, and said the number of people present showed the strong support for Gloria.

"He's a shining example of what our city can do," Corbin said. "You've already made your minds up, but the citizens are speaking, and we're asking you to reconsider. We're asking you to respond to the citizens who have taken time out of their day to come ask you to support Todd Gloria for City Council president."

RELATED: ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Protesters Stage Die-In At San Diego City Council Inauguration

Alvarez nominated Gloria first, saying he was disappointed with the expected result.

"The political thing for me would be to not stand with Todd and say, 'Sorry, looks like you aren't going to take this, I'm going with someone else,'" Alvarez said. "But that's not who I am."

Photo caption:

Photo by Angela Carone

San Diego City Council members Todd Gloria and Sherri Lightner share a stage during the council inauguration ceremony, Dec. 10, 2014.

Republican Councilman Scott Sherman said Gloria had done a great job, but it was someone else's turn. He said he was praised as being nonpartisan when he voted for Gloria as president last time.

"Am I going to be partisan if I vote for a different Democrat this time?" Sherman asked.

Some in the crowd called out, "yes."

Sherman said he disagreed.

"That's how some organizations work. You don't get to keep the job just because you want the job or get a bunch of people to come down here and speak about you," he said.

A vote to re-elect Gloria failed 4-5, with the four Republican council members and Lightner voting no. Then the vote to elect Lightner passed.

The vote to choose a leader was originally scheduled for Monday, but due to a quirk in the council rules it was postponed so incoming Republican Councilman Chris Cate could vote on the decision. Cate voted for Lightner.

With Cate's inauguration Wednesday morning, the council now has five Democrats and four Republicans — a shift from the 6-3 Democratic majority that existed before the November election.

Council President Responsibilities

  • Chair City Council meetings and enforce council rules.
  • Call special meetings.
  • Set council agendas, including scheduling public hearings, placing actions on the consent calendar and referring topics to committees.
  • Coordinate closed session agendas with the mayor and city attorney.
  • Select the committee chairs and committee vice chairs with approval by a council majority.
  • Request information on matters before the council.
  • Represent the council at government and public functions.

Source: San Diego Municipal Code

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