Post part of move to strong mayor Jan. 1
By Jennifer Vigil
November 23, 2005
Councilman Scott Peters received the unanimous support of his colleagues and was named San Diego's first council president yesterday.
Peters will step into the new post, created because of the city's voter-mandated transition to a new form of government, on Jan. 1. No one challenged Peters, who represents the city's 1st District.
Councilman Jim Madaffer said appointing the first council president made it "a historic day." Mayor-elect Jerry Sanders, in a statement, called Peters "an excellent choice."
In accepting the one-year appointment, Peters cited the city's recent difficulties, including the 2004 death of Councilman Charles Lewis, and said that "if crisis brings opportunity, we are certainly in an enviable spot."
The city has been fighting battles on a number of fronts, dealing with the legal and financial fallout of its billion-dollar pension deficit and a power vacuum created by the July resignations of Mayor Dick Murphy and Councilmen Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet.
The remaining six City Council members have had to contend with those issues while preparing this year for the shift to a strong-mayor form of government, which creates separate executive and legislative branches.
The mayor, who will no longer be a member of the council, will create city budgets and propose policy for legislators to review. The council president will replace the mayor in presiding over meetings and scheduling business to be considered.
Peters said another issue, the council's continuing struggles with City Attorney Michael Aguirre, might be improving. He said he has recently had "the most productive discussions ever" with Aguirre.
"For the good of the city and the taxpayers, we are absolutely committed to listening, communicating and finding common ground for solutions," Peters said.
Aguirre urged the council either to name Peters on an interim basis or put off the vote for presiding officer until after Jan. 10, when an election will fill the empty council seats in the 2nd and 8th districts.
Naming an interim president had been the plan, but Madaffer's motion in favor of Peters dropped that element.
Councilwoman Donna Frye agreed with the approach, saying the city should move forward despite the vacancies because the council can remove the president via a majority vote at any time during the position's one-year term.
Frye, who lost the race for mayor two weeks ago, declared her support for Peters before thanking three members of the public who wanted her to be considered for council president. Peters promised Frye a leadership role on the council.
Several community leaders from Peters' district, which includes La Jolla, Carmel Valley and University City, spoke in favor of his candidacy. Representatives from city unions representing firefighters, police and blue-collar workers also offered their support.