PALM SPRINGS – Two months after the Palm Springs City Council voted unanimously to change the procedure for selecting a mayor and mayor pro tem, Alfie Pettit, a potential candidate in District 3, is championing the return to a directly elected mayor.
“This is a disgrace,” Pettit told Uken Report. “Most people don’t even know that we will not have an elected mayor anymore.”
Pettit, an entertainer, says the first item on his to-do list is reinstating the directly elected mayor position. He disagrees vehemently that the position of mayor should rotate among members of the City Council.
“They took away the mayorship and never even talked to the people,” Pettit said. “The mayor’s position should stay as is.”
On Dec. 19, 2018, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1971 enacting a five-district electoral system in which the Mayor and Mayor ProTem are to be appointed from among the City Council therefore eliminating the position of a directly elected mayor.
It was then necessary for the City Council to establish a method for selecting the mayor and mayor pro tem prior to the end of the current at-large mayor’s term.
The City Council on April 17 unanimously adopted a Resolution establishing the procedures for the selection of a mayor. You may read the entire Resolution here.
Beginning December 2019, the current Mayor Pro Tem, Geoff Kors, will ascend to be mayor if he is re-elected, according to City Clerk Anthony Mejia. The rotation will begin with District 3, then District 4, then District 5, and then District 1 and so on. If Kors is not re-elected, the Resolution requires that the mayor have at least one year of service on the City Council. So instead, the mayor will be Councilmember Christy Holstege who resides in District 4. The rotation would then be District 4, then District 5, then District 1, and so on.
With that, Palm Springs joined other Coachella Valley communities such as Indio, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, and Rancho Mirage in rotating the position of mayor among city councilmembers.
It is possible, though perhaps not easy, to reinstate the directly elected mayor position, as Pettit desires.
“In order for Mr. Pettit to do this, he would most likely need to go through the initiative process, which can be initiated by either a majority vote of the City Council or as a private citizen,” City Attorney Jeff Ballinger said.
If an initiative did pass, the City would possibly be subject to a California Voting Rights Violation and-or legal action, according to City Manager David H. Ready.
When the city of Palm Springs was incorporated 80 years ago, in April 1938, members of the City Council were elected by wards, or districts, according to historical documents. In 1963, voters chose to change the process with the majority supporting at-large elections.
Now, with a decision to move back to district elections, history is repeating itself.
- Alfie Pettit: Alfie Pettit
- Mayor: Shutterstock