Directly Elect The Mayor? I Vote No!
On March 20th, at the end of an entry I posted that day, I speculated that our young jailer/mayor might be investigating the methodology of directly electing the position of Mayor of Costa Mesa as opposed to the current method of being selected from among his peers on the City Council. I also postulated that such a move would further strengthen his grip on our city and result in a virtual dictatorship.
The Daily Pilot today, in an article by Alicia Robinson entitled "Elect mayors, end musical chairs?", brings this issue to the forefront. She tells us that former 12-year councilman (the only one to earn pension credits) Gary Monahan first proposed it earlier in this decade, but didn't have the votes at the time to put the change on the ballot. Mansoor inquired about what it might take to elect the mayor directly a month ago. Monahan is quoted as saying that a directly elected mayor would be "the de facto voice of the city". It is rumored around town that Monahan might be considering yet another run for a council seat in 2008.
People typically view the position of mayor as largely ceremonial, but Mansoor has changed that view with his ill-advised attempt to turn every Costa Mesa police officer into an immigration screener. From that point forward, including the moment when Jim Gilchrist anointed him as an honorary Minuteman, he became the poster child for the anti-illegal immigration movement in this country. His smiling face was plastered all over the media, including appearances on national television, where his "Aw, shucks, I just want safe streets." act endeared him to the radical right and made him a symbol for intolerance - and he dragged the reputation of our city along with him. "Ceremonial", my fanny!
We've seen him consolidate his power to the point where he can, and will, dictate even the smallest bit of minutia - like who sits where on the dais. This kind of arrogance of power should make every resident of this city nervous.
In her article Robinson quotes Mayor Carolyn Cavecche of Orange as saying that, following her election as mayor in 2006, "she's had a better opportunity to promote her agenda". That's what power does...
So, let me be clear on my view of this subject. I think the direct election of the mayor of our city is a bad idea, regardless who the candidate might be. I think it consolidates too much power in one person's grip. I think it would be especially tragic if our young jailer/mayor were to be directly elected to that position, because he's shown us his stripes for several years. He has demonstrated for us any number of times that he puts his own personal political future ahead of the safety of our residents and the well-being of our city. He's shown us that he is willing to lie during a campaign in order to be re-elected and that he's more than willing to turn his back on loyal supporters for political expediency. He's demonstrated that he's a man not to be trusted.
Even though Mansoor has the power of a dictator now through his control of the majority on the council, the direct election of the mayor would only exacerbate that problem and enhance his power. I vote "No!"