San Diego City Council chambers. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
San Diego City Council chambers. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A city committee Wednesday took the first step to fix a glitch in city rules that could have allowed outgoing San Diego City Council members to choose the president for their successors.

Traditionally, the mayor and new council members were inaugurated on the first first Monday after the Dec. 1.

However, voters in June passed a City Charter amendment that sets the inauguration for Dec. 10 or, if that date falls on a weekend, on the following Monday.

The City Council’s rules for selecting a president didn’t change, though, raising the specter of a council being able to meet ahead of time to choose the leader for the next one.

It’s important this year, because the appointed term of Councilman Ed Harris will end in a couple of weeks and Councilman-elect Chris Cate will join the panel. The roster change drops the majority’s margin from 6-3 to 5-4, meaning the reelection of Todd Gloria as president for a third year won’t be a slam dunk.

“The selection of the council president should occur after the inauguration on Dec. 10 or the Monday following the weekend of Dec. 10,” said Sherri Lightner, chair of the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.

The committee voted unanimously to have the council president picked on the day new members are sworn-in, following the inauguration ceremony.

The council president holds power over docketing items for council meetings, assigns members to committees and usually chairs one either the Economic Development or Budget committees.

The item needs to be approved by the full City Council at an upcoming meeting in order to take effect.

Also Wednesday, the committee members approved a plan to form a group that will study the City Charter and make proposals for amendments that voters would consider in 2016. The special committee would meet for 18 months beginning in January and could be extended for another year and a half to make proposals for the 2018 election cycle.

Councilman Mark Kersey said the charter needs “thoughtful, bipartisan reform.”

Nearly 50 charter sections need to be reviewed and possibly amended because they’re ambiguous, outdated and incomplete, according to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

—City News Service