Councilman Scott Sherman. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego City Council Wednesday approved a slate of committee chairmanships for next year and made Councilman Barbara Bry the council president pro tem, the panel’s second-in-command.

In doing so on a 6-3 vote, Councilman Scott Sherman was stripped of his chairmanship of the panel’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee, which he led this year. He will not chair any committee in 2018.

Sherman accused colleague Myrtle Cole, chosen to serve a second year as council president, of going back on her written word that she would keep him as head of the Smart Growth panel.

“Then I had a few people, my friends in the unions, call me and tell me that her intention was to move me out as chair because that’s what the unions had requested her to do,” Sherman said. “But I believed that because I had something from the council president in writing, that her written word was probably fairly good.”

He noted that for last week’s council president vote, all of those who spoke out in favor of Cole were organized labor leaders.

Sherman is fiercely opposed by labor union heads, who have called for more Democrats in leadership roles on the council. The demand was difficult to meet one year ago since three Democratic members were brand-new to office.

The City Council is technically nonpartisan and while its members are in general agreement on the vast majority of issues, partisanship does raise its head from time to time. Democrats hold a 5-4 majority on the council.

Sherman called the decision to remove him as chairman one that was “very disappointing” and put the “dysfunctionality” of the council on display.

Cole said, “It was a difficult process to balance all the competing priorities and interests of the council members and to meet all their requests to serve on various committees, but we tried our best — we did.”

Democrat Georgette Gomez, who just completed her first year on the council, will become the chair of the Smart Growth committee, which oversees affordable housing and related issues.

While the Republican Kersey was replaced as council president pro tem, he will remain head of the Infrastructure Committee, a post he has held since joining the council five years ago. City officials have made significant progress in getting their arms around the city’s substantial needs in capital projects and maintenance since Kersey has been in the role.

Like Gomez, the Democrat Bry also just completed her first year on the council and earned plaudits for her leadership of the Budget Committee, which she will continue to chair.

Democrat David Alvarez will continue to chair the Environment Committee, sophomore Democrat Chris Ward will take over as chairman of the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee and remain chairman of the Select Committee on Homelessness; Republican Chris Cate will continue to lead the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, and Republican Lorie Zapf will take over the Audit Committee.

Cole will continue to head up the Rules Committee.

— City News Service