Overwhelmed by constituent opposition, Elk Grove City Council drops idea pursuing elimination of directly elected mayor

Your Elk Grove City Departments, Part I - Public Information | Elk ...

Confronted by an angry populace during their teleconference meeting last night, the Elk Grove City Council unanimously decided to withdraw a hearing on the possibility of placing a measure on the November ballot to eliminate the directly elected mayor. 

From the start of the hearing, Elk Grove City Clerk Jason Lindgren noted his office received 109 recorded messages from individuals, 25 written comments submitted via email as well as two live-call-in comments. During the April 22 city council meeting, Vice Mayor Steve Detrick requested that in addition to a discussion on councilmember term limits, the city council should explore the elimination of the directly elected mayor.

During his presentation, Lindgren noted that if a measure was placed on the November ballot and approved by Elk Grove voters, the mayor's office would be eliminated in December 2020. Regardless of who wins the mayor contest, should the measure be placed on the ballot and approved, that person would have been elected to a position that was eliminated.

"If that measure was successful, so that if the vote was yes, 'eliminate the office of the directly elected mayor,' it would have some interesting effects," Lindgren told the council. "The contest that would be going in November 2020 for the office of mayor would not have a seat to be filled."

The effect, Lindgren said, is that a new, fifth district would need to be established within 60 days. Also, the city council would have to either call a special election or make an appointment to fill the newly created position.

After his presentation, Lindgren noted that many of the recorded calls seemed to follow a script. When asked by Mayor Steve Ly, what was the general nature of the call-in comments, Lindgren said the calls appeared to be scripted in opposition to the proposal to eliminate the mayor.

After agreeing to hear the recorded comments, one of the first live call-in speakers was Amar Shergill, who, one day earlier, wrote a widely distributed opinion piece against the proposal that took particular aim at Councilmember Darren Suen. In his comments, Shergill called the proposal a bad idea.

"I don't begrudge councilmembers Suen, Detrick, or Hume wanting to have a discussion regarding the elimination of the elected mayor there is a value to discussing an idea, even one that's really bad," he said. "You all need to hear why it's bad."

Shergill commented that councilmembers Detrick, Hume and Stephanie Nguyen supported Suen when he ran and lost to Ly in the 2018 mayoral election and wondered had Suen been victorious, would they still be considering the matter. He implied they were more interested in removing Ly and subverting the will of Elk Grove voters.

"The voters soundly rejected Darren Suen; they didn't want him to be mayor," Shergill added. 

After playing several of the recorded comment - all in objection to the proposal to remove the directly elected mayor - Nguyen interrupted the proceedings and asked Lindgren if all the calls followed a similar script. Lindgren said of the 109 calls, about 35-percent were slightly different in nature, but "most of them do follow that format."

Nguyen then asked city attorney Jonathan Hobbs if they could skip listening to the call-in comments. Hobbs opined that "council does have discretion to reasonably limit public comment."

After Hobbs offered his opinion, Ly said it "vitally important" that all the comments be presented before city council deliberations. 

"I am hoping to hear it all," Ly said. "That is the least we can do. I certainly signed up for this job to hear the concerns of the community."

Hume asked Hobbs if the item was dropped, and no further action was taken would allow the council to dismiss the 100-plus unheard call-in audio comments.  Hobbs said it could, and Hume made a motion to drop the matter with no further action, and it was unanimously approved.

In his comments, though, Hume said placing the elimination of the mayor's office on the November 2020 ballot was logistically difficult but suggested the matter could again. 

"So we are looking at a November 2022 opportunity to implement any changes," he said. 

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.


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D.J. Blutarsky said...

Once again, the four amateurs got outplayed by Ly.

You don't show up to a gunfight with a knife! So with their collective tails tucked between their legs, they beat a hasty retreat with the promise of returning to fight another day. Ooh, we're shakin' in our boots!

Eye on Elk Grove said...

By Stephanie Nguyen's comments about the 109 speakers, it was apparent she couldn't be bothered to listen to Elk Grove voters making the time to call, record their public comment on a matter important to them.

What is that verbiage on the blue speaker slip and on front of the city council agenda: "The Elk Grove City Council welcomes, appreciates, and encourages participation in the City Council Meeting."

Stephanie needs to have that verbiage removed because clearly she does not subscribe to those words.

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