Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The City Councilman Who Would be King - Political Intrigue in San Diego

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San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy's resignation this week has sparked a flurry of activity among contenders interested in filling the position. Under San Diego's city charter, the City Council has two options to fill the mayoral vacancy when Murphy leaves office on July 15 - it can call for an election to fill the seat, or it can appoint a mayor through July 2006. The latter option has one member of the council positively salivating.

As John Broder reports in The New York Times, city councilman Scott Peters doesn't like the idea of . . . well, democracy: "An election means a lot of exaggeration and insults and defamation and creates a terrible environment in which to make hard decisions," Peters said in expressing his preference for appointment over election. (Peters happens to be one of the main contenders for the office.)

According to Broder, business leaders are also angling to keep the mayoralty out of the hands of the people, seeking to install a moderate as Murphy's replacement.

Haven't the people of San Diego been screwed out of the right to elect their civic leaders enough? Write-in candidate Donna Frye received the most votes in last year's election, only to have a judge toss out 5,000 crucial votes because voters went to the trouble of writing in Frye's name, but forgot to fill in a little bubble next to it.

The San Diego City Council and Mr. Peters would do well to listen to their hometown newspaper, the San Diego Tribune, even if they don't want to listen to the people they represent. From an editorial in today's Trib:

The only way to establish a mandate, to establish the credibility to govern
effectively, is to face the voters squarely in an election, even one that would
cost this financially strapped city up to $4 million. The City Council should
trust the wisdom of the electorate and call a special election to choose the
next mayor.

We couldn't agree more.

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