At the end of a strange, hour-long special meeting spent wrangling over the minutiae of the Irvine municipal code, the Irvine City Council found its way to appointing outgoing Councilmember Beth Krom to serve as “temporary mayor” from December 5 until December 13 – when Assemblyman Don Wagner will be sworn in as mayor. The vote was 4-1, with Krom voting against her appointment.
The mayor of Irvine is a directly-elected position. The current mayor, Steven Choi, will be sworn in late on December 4 as the new Assemblyman for the 68th Assembly District – leaving the mayor’s position vacant until December 13.
On November 22, Mayor Pro Tempore Lynn Schott wrote and signed a letter of resignation from that primarily ceremonial position in the belief the municipal code would require her to resign her council seat and succeed to the office of mayor for the nine days left in Choi’s term. However, she didn’t submit the letter until a week later.
As it turns out that wouldn’t have been necessary – at least according to an opinion by City Attorney Jeffrey Miller that discussed (but which has not yet been made public) at last night’s council meeting. The city attorney said that unless the council acted to officially declare a mayoral vacancy, Schott could have continued as mayor pro tem during the nine day interregnum.
That milk had already been spilled, however, and so the council needed to take action if for no other reason (as Councilman Jeff Lalloway pointed out) than it needed a presiding officer for the December 13 meeting at which new councilmembers will be sworn in.
The city attorney informed the council that in the event the city has neither a mayor nor a mayor por tempore, the municipal provides for the appointment of a “temporary mayor” – which is basically the English translation of mayor pro tempore.
Councilman Lalloway expressed his support for appointing Schott to be temporary mayor, which would have resulted in the unusual circumstance of the council confirming Schott’s resignation as mayor pro tempore, rescinding her original appointment as mayor pro tempore, and then making her temporary mayor – all in one night.
Councilwoman Christina Shea countered with a substitute motion to appoint Beth Krom as temporary mayor – the path of least resistance given that Krom’s is termed off the council on December 13.
Krom said she could support Schott’s appointment but that she’d be willing to serve as temporary mayor. She also expressed misgivings about the prospect of being appointed on a 3-2 vote based on the assumption Lalloway and Schott would not vote for her.
Mayor Choi seconded Shea’s motion, which passed 4-1; only Krom voted against her appointment.
And so it goes in the City of Irvine.