When Councilmember TimBen Boydston wasn’t selected as mayor pro tem late last year, many were frustrated. Over two dozen residents gave a comment or comment card amounting to: “It’s his turn!” Though there may not be an official mayoral rotation, there’s an unofficially-official sense that he’s been skipped over a time or two.
A thought experiment is in order: who should have been mayor of Santa Clarita if some kind of formal mayor rotation scheme had been strictly followed? There are three alternate schemes:
- Mayor Queue: Emphasizes seniority. After every election, put those who won a seat in queue to be mayor in order of the number of votes received. One has to wait in the queue until all of the people ahead of them serve as mayor for a year or leave office.
- Top Two: Emphasizes voter control. After every election, the top two vote earners will be the first and second mayors in the coming years. There is no seniority.
- New Blood: Emphasizes turnover and diversity of leadership. For the first election, councilmembers serve sequentially as mayor based on the number of votes received. In every election thereafter, the mayor is someone who has never served as mayor before. If everyone on council has already served as mayor, the mayor is the person who hasn’t held the title in the longest time.
I applied these schemes to the past based on how the votes were divided and who was elected to (or still in) office. If someone served part of a full year, like Laurie Ender, I counted it as a full term.
Regardless of the rule scheme (seniority, votes, turnover), TimBen Boydston “should have” served as mayor at least once already. Similarly, Jill Klajic “should have” served as mayor one more time than she did. On the other hand, “mayor hogs” include Jo Anne Darcy and Laurene Weste, both of whom served one time too many, per these schemes. Overall, most mayors served about the right number of terms.
Based on the history of who has actually served as mayor, the title is decided based on no discernible formal rules. The decision is some combination of seniority, votes, political pressure, personality, and, most critically, the ability to win over fellow councilmembers. This is an area in which Councilmember TimBen Boydston does not excel. Politics is its own kind of “fair.”
Table 1. Hypothetical mayoral schedule, had various formal rotation schemes been followed.
Table 2. Summary of the number of times councilmembers “should have” served as mayor, had a formal rotation scheme been followed. The mismatch is the difference between the number of times they actually served as mayor and the number of times they “should have” served as mayor, based on the average of all three rotation schemes.