SANTA CLARITA – City Council members are weighing a change in the way Santa Clarita’s mayor is chosen, perhaps switching from the current rotation among the five council members to having voters choose the city’s chief. Councilman Frank Ferry said voters in the fourth-largest city in Los Angeles County should be allowed to elect their top official – even though the mayor has no added powers on the five-member council. Still, having the voters decide lends credibility in outside dealings, he said. Councilman Bob Kellar agreed the matter is ripe for discussion. “There are occasions I have seen a mayor and city councilman, where you have an elected mayor negotiating on behalf of the city in a stronger position than if you are on rotation basis,” he said Wednesday. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita McLean said she has reservations for two reasons: She’s afraid the seat would further politicize the city’s government, and if the mayor serves two-year terms, as in other cities, he or she would spend a lot of time campaigning. “Our mayor needs to concentrate on the needs of the entire valley rather than worrying, trying to raise money to run for the position of mayor,” she said. “(Having) the four distinct areas of Newhall, Canyon Country, Saugus and Valencia, with the rotation, citizens are better served. With representation from all five of us, that will reflect their views. I’m worried if you have a separate mayor, it will bring more politics into the position.” Councilman Cameron Smyth would like to see the issue discussed; current Mayor Laurene Weste and Councilwoman Marsha McLean – who is in line to be mayor next year – are opposed. Weste said the current system works well because it allows anyone “whatever age, male or female, to bring leadership skills to the community.” The city’s balanced budget and substantial capital improvements point to a community that is well-managed, she said. “We all have a little bit different constituencies and it allows input from different interests in the community and allows everyone to participate and give back in a nonpoliticized way,” Weste said Thursday. What wouldn’t change is Santa Clarita’s system of local government in which a city manager is the chief administrator and the council is a part-time post. “The city manager still runs City Hall and gives guidance to the council and mayor,” Kellar said. McLean, Weste and Ferry, whose terms expire in April, have filed papers to run for re-election April 11. Under the current system, City Council members are elected for staggered four-year terms and rotate the role of mayor. McLean was passed over during the last rotation and Kellar voted against her current position as mayor pro tem. If the matter is put before voters, they would decide whether the council member’s and mayor’s term would run two or four years. These choices, and the candidates’ names, could be grouped on one ballot or spread over two election cycles. It is probably too late to include this matter on the April ballots. Smyth, who will seek his party’s endorsement in the June primary to run for the state Assembly seat being vacated by Keith Richman, R-Granada Hills, said he would need to examine a specific proposal before lending his support, but he is not against the idea. “I don’t have any opposition to putting that on the ballot and letting the voters decide,” he said. Smyth suggested looking to the city of Lancaster as a model. Lancaster Mayor Frank Roberts – serving his sixth term, five of them elected – said Santa Clarita’s time has come. “Santa Clarita should have a full-time, elected mayor’s position,” Roberts said Wednesday. “Santa Clarita is one of the major cities in the north county region and, in view of that, you should have an elected mayor so that the mayor’s position competes with the Pasadena and other elected-mayor positions.” Roberts said the lack of continuity is a drawback to rotating the job. “You barely get into the (mayor) mode, barely understand the responsibility and then you’re gone,” he said. An elected mayor can set goals that resonate with the community, work toward them, and if the goals are not met, voters have recourse. Roberts said a one-year mayor probably would not have the time or clout to claim a power position in outside agencies. Roberts serves on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “In the MTA, they understand you’re very stable and won’t be rotated out in a year,” he said. “You don’t enjoy greater voting power or strength, but you have greater contact with city officials.” An elected post may demand a greater time commitment. Roberts spends 60 to 70 hours a week in meetings and commuting to the meetings, answering constituents’ calls, responding to e-mails and acting as the spokesman for his city. He believes his membership on 14 committees helps him understand issues more deeply than he could otherwise. “I can see the overall picture of the importance of the committees that function with the staff,” he said. The retired college dean supplements his $700 mayor’s stipend with proceeds from business endeavors. Like Santa Clarita, Glendale rotates its council members into the mayor slot. Rafi Manoukian is currently mayor. Burbank Mayor Jef Vander Borght said his city is happy with rotating the largely ceremonial mayor’s position and working under the council-manager form of governance. “I would consider it if our city had a million people and we needed to be elbow-to-elbow with cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, competing for public dollars,” Vander Borght said. “The position (would be) needed for a much larger city that needs mayoral representation outside the city, in Washington, D.C., or Sacramento.” Burbank’s population is 102,000; nearly 170,000 people live in the city of Santa Clarita. The League of California Cities, a statewide organization that provides education and advocacy services for cities, says there is no absolute right answer. “The whole point about cities is they are the level of government that is closest to the people,” said Megan Taylor, a spokeswoman for the organization. “It’s the level of government where people can decide what works best for their community. There’s no universal solution that’s going to work best for every city.” Meanwhile, today is the filing deadline for the April elections in Santa Clarita. Of the 13 people who have picked up filing papers, seven have filed and one does not plan to file. Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!