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Goleta City Council Gives Green Light to Ballot Measure for Direct Election of Mayor

Goleta voters will be asked in November whether they want to directly elect the city’s mayor and, if so, whether they prefer that the mayor serve a two- or a four-year term.

Without taking a position on the idea, the City Council on Tuesday voted 4-1 to place the questions on the November ballot so voters could have their say. The change would take effect with the November 2018 election, if approved.

The job of mayor currently rotates among the five elected city council members, with the council choosing one member to serve in the position for one year.

Should voters opt for a direct election of a mayor, the council would retain the responsibility for selecting the mayor pro tempore, who fills in when the mayor is absent.

City Attorney Tim Giles said the mayor would not receive additional pay, but would be an active council member, have administrative roles, serve in ceremonial functions and attend council meetings.

“There is no real change in the role or function of the mayor,” he said. “(The question) will appear in the voter pamphlet. The voters will have it right there when they are making up their mind.”

Mayor Jim Farr, the lone dissenter, said having a rotating mayor strengthens the City Council.

“I hate to play the contrarian, but I see it a little differently,” he said of a directly elected mayor. “It’s a useful thing for the personal growth for a council member to have the opportunity to be mayor.

“I like the shared opportunity it has as it rotates throughout the council.”

Councilmen Roger Aceves, Michael Bennett and Tony Vallejo, the current mayor pro tem, supported the idea of a four-year term.

“It takes at least four years in any governmental function to bring yourself up to speed,” Bennett said.

“It takes longer than two years to learn and feel comfortable about how local government operates. It’s a fascinating process.”

Councilwoman Paula Perotte stressed the importance of using the ballot language to educate the public on how city government works. The city attorney will prepare a description of the qualifications for the mayoral position as well as an explanation of the measure.

The council will review the proposed ballot language before authorizing the measure to proceed.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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