By Newport Beach Councilmember Will O’Neill
Are you aware that you don’t elect your Mayor?
Would you like to?
I have asked those two simple questions a lot lately. While I have received different responses to the first question, the answer to the second question has been a resounding and universal “yes.”
Which, of course, makes sense. Voters, not politicians, should choose who is Mayor of Newport Beach.
As it currently stands, we elect our city council members who then choose amongst themselves who will fill the role as Mayor for a year. While residents can voice their opinion, the Mayor is chosen by a simple majority of seven people in a city with more than 87,000 residents.
This current system is, at best, a minor league system for a major league city.
Changing our system to a directly elected Mayor requires amending our City Charter. To that end, I filed an intention to start a petition process at City Hall this past Friday. Once approved, petitions will be available for signatures
If passed, voters would start directly electing our Mayor at the general election in 2024 for a four-year term with a two-term limit. The Mayor would have a vote on the City Council along with six City Council Members (whose method of being elected is not changed). The Mayor would set the City Council agendas with an ability for Council Members to add agenda items too. Term limits for current City Council Members would not be reset.
Putting this commonsense measure on the ballot in 2022 will require over 9,000 signatures. I will be rolling out endorsements in the coming weeks and asking friends, colleagues, and our residents to pitch in because the end result is worth the effort.
We ought to have candidates for Mayor talking to all Newport Beach about their priorities to win office and be accountable to all of us. We deserve a strong, united voice in good times and in crisis.
So, would you like to directly elect our Mayor? If so, join the cause.