Council majority opposed to rotating mayoral role

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Is it time for a policy change regarding Laguna Beach’s mayor and mayor pro tem assignments? 

Not anytime soon. 

Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf and Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen at the dias. Whalen has been mayor and mayor pro tem of Laguna Beach seven times in 10 years. Kempf has held the positions three times in the almost five years she’s served on council. Clara Beard/LB Indy

Save for George Weiss, the remaining city council members say they’re happy with the status quo, one in which council members select a candidate and take a vote.

Council member Weiss’s proposal of a rotation, brought before council during its Nov. 21 regular meeting, suggested all elected council members should have the opportunity to be called “mayor” or “mayor pro tem” during their time in office.

“It’s been a longstanding tradition that council members rotate into the positions of mayor and mayor pro tem,” said Weiss, who was elected to council in 2020. “That time-honored tradition continued until the last five or six years. I believe it’s best to go back to that tradition that served Laguna well rather than positions decided by the majority of the council. It’s a ceremonial role, and I hope we can agree to do that tonight.” 

Since 2013, Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen has been mayor and mayor pro tem of Laguna Beach seven times in 10 years. Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf has held the positions three times in the almost five years she’s served on council. 

Support from the public was mixed, with some agreeing the assignment of mayor and mayor pro tem should be available to all council members.

“I’m about to shock you. I think Peter Blake should have been mayor,” resident Michele Monda told council members during public comment. “To exclude him is exactly what I’m against. This was undemocratic. Did I like him? Oh, you bet not. Did I think he would have self-destructed, and would he have been the worst mayor we ever had? You bet. But people elected him. He had every right to be mayor in his time.”

Others argued against allowing all council members the chance to hold the mayoral role, saying the position is much more than just ceremonial and requires an adept public leader. 

“George Weiss wants to be mayor. That’s what this is all about,” resident Chris Quilter said. “It’s certainly not about a time-honored tradition that says, ‘anyone elected to the council gets to be mayor.’ If that were the case, Peter Blake would have been mayor. Our mayors have always been selected by a majority of their peers. That’s the tradition. So, the question of whether or not George should be mayor should not be in the hands of his supporters or his detractors. It’s entirely up to you.” 

During the discussion, Whalen said he isn’t seeking the re-assignment of the mayor. 

The new mayor and mayor pro tem appointments take place at the next regular meeting on Dec. 12. 

No vote was taken after the discussion, as the item did not require any action.  

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Since 2013, Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen has been mayor and mayor pro tem of Laguna Beach seven times in 10 years. Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf has held the positions three times in the almost five years she’s served on council. And folks say the selects need to be adept. Our mayors have always been selected by a majority of their peers. That’s the tradition?

    No one seems to care that the tradition is a monopoly. No one seems to care that the recent baton passes also lead appointments to planning and DRB with their influence and newly elected CM’s defer to them because of that alleged adeptness. Most newby votes also support the monopoly because the rational is they are just learning on the job. Ha.

    Since 2018 we have suffered at the hands of bully Blake, have had at least 4 pedestrian deaths, Brown Act violations, a city manger that lied to a police officer, a developer thug that attempted to take property by armed force that did not belong to him. Hundreds of CEQA exemptions were passed out like Halloween candy without required CEQA biology study with environment as the loser, along with your property equity. The list goes on, but why beat the horse to death.

    When Kempf, or Whalen nominate Alex next meeting for mayor, they need to also nominate a diaper changer. That will assure adeptness. Enjoy the status quo as 25 foot pop ups become you new view. And remember that the only CM that has your back, studies and researches anything is CM Weiss. Yes, embrace tradition!

  2. Michele, well said, the truth in all of this, is the believe in a system and not a agenda by 2 CC members still in the entanglement of Dupris.. the honesty is in your statement,
    ““I’m about to shock you. I think Peter Blake should have been mayor,” resident Michele Monda told council members during public comment. “To exclude him is exactly what I’m against. This was undemocratic. Did I like him? Oh, you bet not. Did I think he would have self-destructed, and would he have been the worst mayor we ever had? You bet. But people elected him. He had every right to be mayor in his time.”

    This is called integrity and ethics…I agree with you 100% because this is fair and just.. Will they do the right thing? I think we need to take bets on this one..oh yeah..I got $100 and call you with the rest. They don’t like time limits either, it’s too darn logical…

  3. The Indy has held back some comments on this rotating article. Censoring those that are tired of the Whalen, Kempf monopoly and the manipulation and control that this process allows. Weiss is the 3rd most experienced CM, but will they Nominate AR because he will do as they wish? His vote rarely represents me, how about you!

  4. Residents should be concerned as to why our City won’t adopt a formal Elected’s Succession Rotation Policy for Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem positions like other cities have done. The same applies to adopting Council Term Limits. Fact is; LB is one of 4 or so cities in Orange County’s 34 cities who have not adopted Term Limits.

    Council members Whalen (serving 3rd term/7 times as M/MPT) and Kempf (serving 2nd term/3 times M/MPT and serving as Mayor during last election year – a clear candidate advantage) have monopolized the two leadership positions over the last decade. A review shows how council members serving multiple terms can tag-team to maintain control and stop other incoming elected’s from holding the lead positions. Reason enough to adopt Elected’s Succession Policy and Term Limits.

    LB Council Mayor/Mayor Pro-Tem Whalen and Kempf 10 Year Review:
    12-13-22 to 12-12-23 Bob Whalen/Sue Kempf

    12-14-21 to 12-13-22  Sue Kempf/Bob Whalen
    
12-08-20 to 12-14-21 Bob Whalen/Sue Kempf
    12-03-19 to 12-08-20 Bob Whalen/Steve Dicterow
    12-04-18 to 12-03-19 Bob Whalen/Steve Dicterow

    12-02-14 to 12-08-15 Bob Whalen/Steve Dicterow 

    12-02-13 to 12-02-14 Elizabeth Pearson/Bob Whalen

  5. It is undoubtedly time to dismantle the Whalen/Kemph hijacking of the Mayor/Mayor Pro-Tem tag team monopoly. Anyone who believes that the current situation is fair should look at the post by MJ Abraham. Why would anyone believe that the current “baton toss” of these two positions between Whalen and Kemph is somehow fair?

    On Dec. 12 the Laguna Beach City Council will select the new Mayor and the new Mayor Pro-Tem by Council “Majority Vote.” It is time to put an end to the embarrassing abuse of these positions by Whalen and Kemph.

    Having said that, there is only ONE current City Council Member who should be considered for the position of Mayor. Senior City Council Member George Weiss has earned the right to serve as Mayor. Any choice other than CC Member George Weiss would be a sham.

    Consider the alternative, Whalen, has served as Mayor or Mayor Pro-Tem 7 times in the last 10 years. Kemph, has served as Mayor or Mayor Pro-Tem 3 times in the last 3 Years. Rounaghi, Freshman City Council Member, first term on CC should not garner consideration. Orgill, Freshman City Council Member, first term CC should not garner consideration.

    Council positions in Laguna Beach are nonpartisan, right? The selection for the position of Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem should be unprejudiced and even-handed. We will soon find out if this is the case with our City Council. The constituents are watching, let’s return to a just and reasonable system that does not play favorites.

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