Councilman Ken Genser, who has served on the Santa Monica City Council since 1988, was appointed to the rotating position of mayor at the City Council meeting Tuesday, December 9th.
Genser, who served two one-year terms as mayor from 1991 to 1992 and 1999 to 2000, will serve as mayor for two years, while Councilwoman Pam O’Connor serves as mayor pro tem.
The mayor is not elected by Santa Monica voters. The position is ceremonial and mayors are appointed by the City Council itself.
Some believed that it was Councilmen Kevin McKeown’s and Bobby Shriver’s turn to have two-year terms as mayor and mayor pro tem.
McKeown, who has been on the council since 1998, and Shriver, who has been on the council since 2004, are the only members on the City Council who have never served as mayor.
Both have also been very popular among Santa Monica residents.
Most recently, Shriver was reelected to the City Council in November as the top vote-getter with a record 24,298 votes.
In 2006, McKeown was reelected to the council as the top vote-getter with 14,000 votes.
“The appointment of the mayor should be a collegial appointment,” said peace activist Jerry Rubin at the meeting. “It should be based on what’s fair. It seems to me the fair thing to do would be to appoint Councilman McKeown and Councilman Shriver for a one year term each.”
Rubin said that each deserved to be the mayor.
“I agree that Kevin McKeown and Bobby Shriver should share a term serving as mayor,” said Pro Se, a Santa Monica resident and regular meeting attendee. “They have both worked really hard. There would be no finer representatives than both of them.”
Se also pointed out that the will of the people clearly indicates that McKeown and Shriver should be mayor.
He then thanked Herb Katz, who served his first term as mayor the past year, for his work.
“You’ve been the finest mayor,” Se said. “I appreciate your humor. You’re a good man.”
After public comment, Katz and Richard Bloom, who served as mayor pro tem the past year, spoke.
“It has been truly an honor and pleasure to serve as your mayor pro tem,” Bloom said to Katz. “You’ve proven over and over again the grittiness you have. I thank you very much on behalf of the City Council and community for your extraordinary service.”
Katz, who teared up, thanked Bloom for backing him up when he wasn’t feeling well or he was undergoing chemotherapy.
“It’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Katz said of his experience as mayor.
O’Connor then made a motion to nominate Genser for mayor for two years, and Katz made a motion to name Genser mayor for one year.
O’Connor’s motion received the majority of the councilmember’s votes, and when Genser took the mayor’s seat, he jokingly said, “The seat is very warm.”
Genser then addressed Katz’s term as mayor.
“I want to say that I just appreciated your personal grace,” Genser said.
O’Connor, who was appointed as mayor pro tem, said Katz has “a great sense of humor.”
She added that she’s always been impressed that, in addition to being on the council, which is considered a part-time job, he also works full-time as an architect.
“You are my role model,” she told Katz.