Local News

Council majority ignores policy in choosing new Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem

Ignoring established policy, City council voted 3-2 (Zahra and Silva “no”) to select Fred Jung as the new Mayor and Bruce Whitaker as Mayor Pro Tem at their December 7 meeting.

Each December, the City Council votes to appoint a Mayor and Mayor Pro from among themselves. In October 2020, Council approved a new policy to appoint the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem, in order to bring clarity to a process that is often politically motivated.

Per this policy, the Mayor Pro Tem automatically becomes Mayor. This would have been Nick Dunlap, although Ahmad Zahra had seniority. The Mayor Pro Tem is supposed to be chosen based on seniority (if one has not already served as Mayor). This would have been Zahra.

Council is not required to follow this policy, and again, they did not.

This was not the first time Zahra was passed over. Last year, newly-elected Nick Dunlap was chosen as Mayor Pro Tem even though Zahra had seniority.

Councilmember Jesus Silva, who nominated Zahra to serve as Mayor and himself to serve as Mayor Pro Tem (a motion voted down 3-2), gave a brief history of former councilmembers who had been bypassed in the rotation as Mayor.

Silva’s wife, State Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, was bypassed when she was on Council and had seniority to be Mayor. Prior to that, Jan Flory and Pam Keller were bypassed, although both Quirk-Silva and Flory eventually served as Mayor.

The majority of public commenters spoke in favor of following the normal policy, including some from District 5 (which Zahra represents), who said they felt they were being dismissed.

Fred Jung is Fullerton’s first Korean American Mayor.

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9 replies »

  1. Fullerton needs leadership and has done so for a long, long time. Precious speeches to wounded interest groups isn’t going to cut it. Fred Jung was the best man for this job. Here’s the real policy: the guy who can count to three.

  2. Sadly the once beautiful enclave of Fullerton is now riddled with congestion and corruption, turning it into a cesspool of high-density housing, drug-peddlers and all sorts of miscreants in bed with big oil.

  3. They should be ashamed – but current council majority has no shame. The positions of Mayor and Protem are honorary and do not carry anymore authority than any other council position. That is why there should be fair rotation to respect the voters of each district. The long line of residents who supported fair rotation were also disrespected. I also found it odd that of the few public speakers who wanted to break the fair rotation tradition – some were from out of town.

  4. Thanks Jesus Silva for reminding us of the fairly impressive list of later quite esteemed figures who had been previously iced out of Fullerton’s mayorship in the past. So Ahmad Zahra, probably the hardest working member of the City Council joins that quite impressive list.

    The second hardest working member of the City Council, Fred Jung, was elected Mayor.

    And I know and have seen Silva work hard too, I just have _repeatedly_ seen Zahra and Jung working “above and beyond” in these last years, and wish to give both of them credit for that. Really BOTH are exceptional and Fullerton is lucky to have BOTH on the Council (even if they haven’t liked each other much).

    But wow, does Jung inherit a mess.

    Here I would note that ONE faction of the City Council has the quite easy connections and good relationships with Sacramento to get the much needed funding to get Fullerton’s City Government and services running again.

    The other faction has of course a different ideological perspective on the question of asking for government funds.

    The question for Fullertonians is whether they want a city government that actually works, or one that is reduced to simply some kind of perhaps even “outsourced overseas” phone service for City Hall and of course a robust police department to keep the poor down (ideological concerns seems to dissipate when it comes to asking for government charity to support the men/women with batons…).

    To a large extent, Fullertonian voters have answered that question in the last election.

    But then when we complain that everything in this city, with the possible exception of the police is gutted, well … that’s what the city’s residents voted for.

    The new Mayor Jung has always stood been in the middle. One faction, presently clearly on the outs, is the one which has the connections to make Fullerton work again.

    The other faction (elected / reelected with Jung in 2020), except again / certainly for supporting the police, will probably keep Fullerton largely shut down for the next three years (and economically depressed regions generally need even more “public safety” dollars …

    The question is up for all of us … do we want basically a Police State or Sweden?

    To put my two cents in, I’d honestly and quite happily prefer Sweden.

  5. “One faction, presently clearly on the outs, is the one which has the connections to make Fullerton work again.”

    And how do you figure that? Specifics, please. And “police state?.” That’s pretty offensive, even for you.

    • Hi David:

      There is all kinds of money available, both State and Federal, to make the City work again. If we _choose not to apply_ for it, or _refuse to use it_ or invent all kinds of excuses not to use it … well, we remain shut down.

      Then, if the _only_ thing that we seem willing to spend money on is the police, then _by definition_ we become a police state.

      You may not like that, but it’s simply the truth.

      • There is a huge differeince between using money and wasting it.

        Anyhow are you implying Quirk would (or even could) divert funds to Fullerton because her husband is on the City Council?

        Anyway, after 2022 he won’t be and neither will Zahra who seems to be working hardest to sell his brand. He has alienated the other councilmembers and THAT’s why he didn’t get their support. Just like last year. Filing phony police reports against your colleagues is no way to get elected Mayor by them, no matter how many speakers you mobilize.

  6. David,

    I’m certainly not saying that AM Sharon Quirk Silva will somehow underhandedly “divert money” to help Fullerton. Instead, she’d happily help the city find the State money ALREADY COLLECTED for the various tasks at hand, as she has done REPEATEDLY for the City before. That’s what a GOOD _accountable_ elected representative does.

    But above all, I’m saying that three is the magic number to count to in the City of Fullerton is INDEED THREE

    And it is ABSOLUTELY _clear_ TO ME that EVEN AT THIS DATE, having certainly and perhaps quite counterproductively hurt Zahra by “stepping ahead in line” of him….

    IF JUNG aligned HIMSELF EVEN NOW with the Silva – Zahra faction THEN a year from now he’ll be finishing up his term as Mayor AS A RESOUNDING SUCCESS. (!!!)

    Silva and Zahra have the people, connections and the will to bring this city back.

    If IMHO (!!) Jung chooses to side with Whitaker / Dunlap, HE WILL CERTAINLY LEAVE the Mayorship with the City in the same mess as it is in now or perhaps even worse.

    It’s literally that clear.

    Perhaps, I’m wrong. And Whitaker / Dunlap can perhaps show some new _credible_ path forward. But

    (1) I don’t see how Libraries return to normal hours without money.
    (2) I don’t see how roads get fixed without money.
    (3) I don’t see how phone calls to city hall will get answered without money.

    Perhaps one does not care, and just wants a HUGE or even perhaps a SMALL “RUMP” police department and NOTHING ELSE.

    But if one wants BASIC SERVICES, one needs money to pay for them. The City’s residents _chose_ to vote against a modest city sales tax that would have helped this effort enormously.

    Having chosen to vote against that tax, the City can perhaps go to the state and ask for help. It still has the people to do that.

    Otherwise, we’re going to live in pothole land with our kids lacking basic library services wondering why they can’t get into college.

    With the police perhaps traversing cratered roads, or perhaps dropping out of shiny new helicopters (because there’s always money for that stuff …), to preserve some order.

    It’s again basically a choice between SWEDEN and a POLICE STATE.

    And honestly a year from now WE WILL ALL SEE.

    If Jung chooses, even now to go with Zahra / Silva a year from now we’ll all be living in a city that more closely resembles Sweden.

    If he chooses Whitaker / Dunlap, we’ll continue to live in an increasingly dystopian mess where NOTHING WORKS and the only thing that we’ll have is perhaps … the Police.

    It’s THAT CLEAR A CHOICE. And in a year’s time we’ll ALL SEE.

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