With the community closely involved in the mayoral rotation, the June 25, 2018 City Council meeting took part of the agenda to review the process, and voted 4 to 1 to set aside the policy that was passed in February of 2017. This decision was then given to city staff to for further review, keeping Meghan Sahli-Wells in position as Vice Mayor.
The chamber was filled, and there were more than 30 speaker cards wanting to address the subject. Several of the first speakers up, including Roderick Wollin, chose to use their time to display the video of the February meeting where both Meghan Sahli-Wells and Daniel Lee spoke in favor of the policy. One of the Culver City residents who had filed a formal complaint with the city attorney’s office in regard to the Brown Act, Bret Osterberg, spoke to say that he was not satisfied with the official response from the city attorney’s office.
While many of the speakers decried the unfairness of passing Goran Eriksson over for the role of mayor, some felt that his lack of support for the declaration of Sanctuary City prevented him from being a suitable leader for the current council. The fact that many mayoral rotations had not ‘run to plan’ in the past was offered both from the floor and from the dais.
Former Mayor Ed Wolkowitz took both sides of the discussion by noting that “When an action of the council generates public discussion, it s a good thing … [but ] when you are trying this hard to convince folks that what you are doing is the right thing, it generally isn’t.”
Long-time local political activist Disa Lindgren stood up for politics to be politics. “Voting is an inherently political act.” She offered that to the victor go the spoils, and that the elected majority had the right to overrule any previously established policy. Also citing the City Charter as the basis for overturning the policy, her comments touched on every central point of the controversy. “Of course this is political.”
When it was the council’s turn to speak, Goran Eriksson said that he felt awkward to be in such a spotlight. “I didn’t have anything to do with this, and I ended up being a party to this.” In regard to the rotation policy of 2017, he offered, “[the rotation is] so much easier to be dealt with when no one has a stake in the game. When there is a stake, logic might disappear. This policy was developed based on experiences, some of them bad. If we don’t have the predictability, then this day in April becomes rather chaotic. In the long run, for the city, I think it’s the best way. When the genii is out of the bottle it is hard to put it back in. The purpose of the policy is to avoid politics.”
Vice Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells took the opposing argument, that politics was essential to the succession of the office of the mayor. The rotation policy “… wasn’t followed, it was selective in how it was followed, and it’s been political this whole time. [The mayoralty] is very important piece of how you represent the city to the outside world.”
Like many speakers who came to the podium, Sahli-Wells view of the mayor’s office as being more than ceremonial was central to her conviction that politics should prevail.
With the 4 to 1 vote to set aside the 2017 policy and proceed with the appointments in place closed the discussion.