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Will San Diego City Council Dump Todd Gloria As Its President?

San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria at 2014 State of the County Address
Milan Kovacevic
San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria at 2014 State of the County Address

Amid rumors that some San Diego City Council members will try to replace Democrat Todd Gloria as council president next week, Gloria said he will propose delaying the vote until a newly elected Republican can participate in the decision.

Katie Keach, Gloria’s deputy chief of staff, said Gloria proposed delaying the vote because “it’s the right thing to do,” so that Councilman-elect Chris Cate can be sworn in first.

"Chris Cate is going to be serving on this council, and he should get to help select who the leader is,” Keach said.

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, Article 2, Division 1, Rule 5.2

Gloria Memo
In a memo, Council President Todd Gloria calls for a discussion to temporarily change a rule that would allow a newly elected council member to vote for council president.
To view PDF files, download Acrobat Reader.

A measure passed this year by San Diego voters mandates a council member’s term begins on Dec. 10, but the city's municipal code requires the council to select a new president on the Monday after the first of December. This year, that falls on Dec. 8.

That means Republican Cate would be sworn in two days after the council president vote.

To remedy this conflict, Democrat Gloria is proposing a temporary rule to push the council president vote back until Cate and three other council members who won re-election are inaugurated on Dec. 10, according to a Nov. 24 memo from his office.

There's been talk around City Hall that Democrat Sherri Lightner could be voted in over Gloria as council president. NBC San Diego published a story online Monday that quoted anonymous sources saying an effort is underway to replace Gloria with Lightner.

When asked about the rumors, Gloria's office released this statement:

"Council President Gloria is honored to have led the City Council and the city with a bipartisan approach to solving problems through some of the toughest times. With his colleagues’ support, he hopes to continue to help make additional progress for San Diego in 2015."

Lightner's office did not immediately respond to a request from KPBS for comment.

Democratic Congressman Scott Peters, San Diego's first City Council president, expressed support for Gloria on social media.

"After the exemplary job he did cleaning up from Filner & his collaborative CP style? That's partisanship not leadership," he said on Twitter.

Council seats are officially nonpartisan, but partisan politics can become an issue — especially with Mayor Kevin Faulconer being a Republican and the council majority Democratic.

Currently, the council has six Democrats and three Republicans. Once Cate's on the council, the numbers change to five Democrats and four Republicans. The Democrats also will no longer have the six votes needed to override a mayoral veto.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify when Gloria proposed delaying the vote for a new council president. Gloria raised the issue in a Nov. 24 memo but his office shared the document Tuesday.