Posted 4/23/13 – After a lengthy discussion about the contents of a Request for Proposal to be issued for a Water Rate Study the City will be conducting, and a shorter discussion about the Council’s Strategic Plan, and presentations to outgoing Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Walsh and Mayor Josh Moran, complete with a brief goodbye speech by the Mayor, the City Council elected to follow tradition and elected (unanimously) Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Walsh to be Mayor for the next year. I’ll post video of the presentations, the Mayor’s goodbye speech and the election of the new Mayor later this week.
But the next twenty minutes or so got a little more interesting, as there was deep division among the Council members regarding the selection of Mayor Pro Tem. Two residents got up to suggest the Council choose Council Member Chris Koerber to be Mayor Pro Tem. The newly retired Mayor then read a letter he had received from a resident encouraging the Council to follow tradition in its selection of the new Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, the first tradition being the elevation of the Mayor Pro Tem to the Mayor seat, and the second being the awarding of the Mayor Pro Tem position to the top vote getter in the last election. The resident pointed out that in recent years when the Mayoral tradition had been broken, there was a great division in the council and in the town, and the resident did not want to see a divided Council going into a year when the City is expected to face severe financial difficulty. Council member Moran seconded the sentiment of the letter writer regarding the desire to follow tradition and stated that he too, did not want to see a division like was seen when then Council member Joe Mosca was passed over by the majority on the Council. However, he disagreed with her assessment that Chris Koerber had been the highest vote getter, noting that Koerber’s race was a special election, not the regular election. He said that since Council member John Harabedian had received the most votes in the regular election, he felt Councilman Harabedian should be elected Mayor Pro Tem. He moved that John Harabedian should be named Mayor Pro Tem, which new Mayor Nancy Walsh seconded.
Council member John Capoccia stated that he felt that Councilman Koerber had received the most votes, and he nominated Councilman Koerber to be Mayor, which Koerber seconded.
Councilman Harabedian then spoke, starting out by saying that “this is somewhat confusing to me, and it’s disappointing, and I don’t think this is the finest hour for two of my Council members, but I’m not surprised at this point to be honest with you.” He continued, pointing out that because there were more people running in his election, it was natural that the vote was going to be split farther, leaving the top vote getter in that election with fewer votes. He also pointed out that the seat which Koerber was filling, that of Joe Mosca, had already filled the Mayor position and that to re-seat the person in that seat would be “bucking a tradition here in Sierra Madre” of only allowing a Council member to be Mayor once during their four year term. He pointed out that “it’s unfair to our new Mayor and our outgoing Mayor to put them in this position, it should have been a night to celebrate their service…instead we have to talk through this like we’re children.” He went on to add that if Council members Koerber and Capoccia were not aware that Mosca had been Mayor during the term that Koerber is filling than “all’s fair” but that if they were aware then “I believe this is purely a opportune power grab, that’s all it is, and …this has severely scarred my perception of you two.”
Council member Moran supported Harabedian, pointing out that if there were a regular election in the future with seven candidates diluting the vote, at the same time as a special election with only two candidates, “you can’t give the special election candidate an advantage over the regular election candidate.”
Council member Koerber then thanked the folks that had spoken up for him for their kind words, adding that he was humbled. He then quoted Winston Churchill “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, and ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
Council member Harabedian asked “for the record” if he (Koerber) was aware that Joe Mosca had served as Mayor, and Council member Koerber pointed out that “the record shows that we are not in court, Counselor, the record states 1403 votes, Counselor, I’m sorry you had less.” Eventually, Council member’s Capoccia’s motion to name Council member Koerber as Mayor Pro Tem was defeated 3 to 2, and Josh Moran’s motion for Harabedian to be Mayor Pro Tem was passed 4 to 1.