Local Government

Council Majority Re-Appoints Same Mayor/Mayor Protem

District 5 residents were once again dismayed as council majority Jung, Whitaker, and Dunlap refused to follow the city’s fair rotation policy in appointing a councilmember to serve as Mayor and Mayor Protem following the certification of the Nov. 8, 2022 election results.

The current policy as stated in the Policy and Procedures Manual for the City of Fullerton which reads in part:

The Mayor Protem shall automatically become the Mayor…Selection of Mayor Protem by the City Council is based on seniority according to the number of years a member has served consecutively on City Council without serving as Mayor… In the event a current Mayor Protem who is scheduled to be the next Mayor chooses not to serve, the member shall continue to serve as Mayor Protem and the next most senior member will be moved up to serve as Mayor.

The City Attorney added, “The policy is established by the City Council and as such the City Council can choose to disregard the administrative regulation that they created.”

The staff report stated that “Based on the [Policy] Mayor Protem Whitaker would serve as Mayor…” and “based on the policy, Councilmember Zahra would serve as Mayor Protem because he has served the most consecutive years on City Council without serving as Mayor.”

When the item was opened for discussion, newly elected City Councilmember Shana Charles nominated Mayor Protem Whitaker for Mayor saying she strongly supported following the fair rotation policy.

“I think we need to get to a place where we rotate around by district and District 5, which by the way includes the entire Downtown and the Harbor corridor, needs to have representation in that mayoral succession,” said Charles. She later also nominated Councilmember Zahra to serve as Mayor Protem. “We are the ones that uphold what the policies of the city are and we should not exempt ourselves,” said Charles.

Councilmember Dunlap in response to Charles disagreed saying, “I understand that rotation is important to some people but I think that part of serving in a body like this is not just serving the public, but being respectful and collegial to Same Mayor/Protem continued from front page your colleagues and I think that respect is earned.”

Councilmember Zahra noted “District 5 has been the most disadvantaged district for decades…and to deny mayoral representation is emphasizing and reinforcing the notion that South Fullerton is still neglected, and this would be an unfortunate start to what would have been a hopeful next two years in working together in order to build bridges.”

Mayor Protem Whitaker said, “I was a believer in the rotation and followed that policy even to my detriment sometimes when certain supporters or partisans or whoever questioned me on why I supported certain individuals for Mayor, but I did that because I thought that was a good way of keeping things in order up here. However, for the first time in recent years that was broken when I was up to be Mayor Protem and I was bypassed…and that started this route now of having to make differing determination than had been the practice. That was to Councilmember Zahra’s disadvantage in the last cycle – it’s not my preference but that is where we are at right now.”

In response to Whitaker’s comment, Councilmember Charles reminded the panel that, “Where we are at, is at the start of a brand-new council with a brand-new possibility of moving forward and I hope that we can move forward and forget what has happened in the past and begin here with a fresh start.”

And with that the discussion for nominations closed and ignoring fair rotation, current Mayor Jung was nominated to serve as Mayor once again by Mayor Protem Whitaker and won a simple majority of 3-2 (Whitaker, Dunlap, Jung, yes) – (Charles and Zahra, no).

The nomination for Mayor Protem went the same way on a 3-2 vote with current Mayor Protem Whitaker appointed to serve another two years as Mayor Protem.

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14 replies »

  1. “…his (Silva’s) district voters voted for him for four years to be district representative and only got two because of the way the line up and redistricting went.” No, Sharon, you have it backwards. Silva was first elected at-large in 2016, when the old map was adopted by voters. He resigned from that term two years early when he was elected to the first District 3 election in 2018. If anyone was cheated of two years, if you want to look at it that way, it was the voters from all over the city who expected him to fulfill his commitment to serve out that full four year at-large term. The vacancy of the remaining two years of his 2016 – 2020 at-large seat was filled by a council majority of Jennifer Fitzgerald, Silva himself, and the newly elected Ahmad Zahra appointing an unelected Jan Flory to serve for nearly two years instead of holding a special election. Silva went on to serve a full four year term as District 3’s council member.

    In 2020, when it because obvious that a council majority was going to support a new map that moved Silva into District 2, which already had Nick Dunlap representing it and would not elect a member of the council again in the regular rotation until 2024, Silva suggested that the order of district elections be changed so that District 2 would elect a new member in 2022 instead, and District 3 would have to wait an additional two years until 2024 instead of having an election in 2022. Thankfully, the rest of the council rejected this non-sensical, self-serving suggestion that would have truncated District 2’s seat and extended District 3’s seat, both (probably) illegal.

    • Correction: The second paragraph of my above comment should have begun: “In 2022, when it because obvious…” The new map was adopted in 2022, of course, not 2020.

  2. Attn. Adrian Mezza
    I was reading your article….quote
    ….”And with that the discussion for nominations closed and ignoring fair rotation,”
    Aren’t you supposed to report the news and not interpret it?
    Who are you to declare what is fair and what is not?

    • Curt – Fair Rotation is the current city policy on appointing mayor and mayor protem. The article is completely factual.

      • Sharon…Rotation is not current city policy. The elected city council makes the city policy,and the current policy is council at large majority vote for choice of mayor position.
        However my point I was making in my comments is that your job is to report the news not try to influence people. “fair” is nowhere written in city policy, it was the word your newswritter chose to add . What right do you have to declare what is fair for the city?
        … Also I noticed I’m now subjected to review comments
        Am I being censored because my question concerning “fairness”?

  3. Maybe if Zahra’s little career hadn’t been one of self-promotion, prevarication, attacking and undermining his colleagues he might have got to play Mayor. And then there’s the business of cooking up a Latino fake D5 candidate “Tony Castro” – to siphon votes away from a decent Latino candidate – Oscar Valadez. Think Zahra wasn’t in on that? D5 is still unrepresented, all right.

    • I’m a Latina mom and long time Fullerton resident. You are obviously a troll. You are gaslighting Zahra and trying to fault him. Do you think we haven’t been watching? The trio you are defending have been attacking him, even publicly, since they took over. Zahra is outspoken and not afraid to stand with our community. We appreciate that, unlike the others who seem to be more interested in hogging titles and voting against the interests of our community. I am reminded how Fred attempted to privatize our library.
      Further, it’s insulting of you to assume that our Latino community would be so naive as to only vote for a Latino. Zahra has been there for our Latino community more than anyone I know. And I remind you, it was Jung, Dunlap, and Whitaker who manipulated the district maps and cut out our elected Latino Jesus Silva, blocking him from running.
      STOP THE LIES. Election is over. We chose our representatives and now it’s time for the others on Council to start working with our District5 Rep and stop acting like bullies. This is so shameful.

      • Stop the lies? Your Zahra lies more than anyone. That district map you refer to was a joke and gerrymandered. No one blocked Jesus. He can run in 2024. Library being privatized is another Zahra lie. But nothing is more fan fiction than this crappy story, which is all opinion and no facts. Quality journalism from Observer.

      • 1) Marisol, so true and well-said.
        2) Zenger – where is proof of your allegation? And district 5 voters chose Zahra who has been passed over twice for his turn as mayor. That is unfair.
        3) Fullerton Native (whoever you are) – The last district map was gerrymandered by the, then republican majority, council who voted against the resident-created map – The current map was created by a politician-heavy committee appointed by the council majority. Seems that majority is upset that no matter how they gerrymander – their candidate fails to win. I hope Jesus Silva runs in the next district -2 election. He was great on the council. And the library privatization attempt was brought up by Jung.

        • Of course you would say that Sharon!!!!!!! Because everything to you is through your lens and not that of a fair minded journalist and your family paper now reflects that bias as well.

        • Sharon, the first District map (the “bar owners map”) was unanimously approved by the council, which included Democrats Doug Chaffee and Jan Flory. The so-called “residents map” was effectively a Democratic Party map. Both maps sliced up the downtown area to advantage their respective parties, although, admittedly, the map ultimately adopted did so in particularly egregious way.

          Let us not forget Doug Chaffee’s unsuccessful efforts to put his own district in the first round of elections so that his wife could run for council there (or her disingenuous relocation to District 5 when she couldn’t wait for two years) or Jesus Silva’s later attempt to disenfranchise his entire district for two years by switching the district election order just so he could keep his council seat for that period.

          • Matt – agree with you on the sneaky chaffed and the ridiculous bar map – but I participated in several of the redistricting meetings open to all residents that ended choosing the “peoples” map. I am not a democrat and really don’t know the parties of the other residents – we just thought it was a fair map. Jane’s map was also very good. Jesus Silva was not disinfranchising anyone – his district voters voted for him for four years to be district representative and only got two because of the way the line up and redistricting went. He is very honest and often tried to reach compromise between factions. Everyone who actually knows him respects him and can vouch for his integrity.

        • P.S. I am reminded that both Jeanette Vasquez, then candidate for school board, who presented the so-called “community map” and then council candidate Jesus Silva campaigned together in favor of the district elections initiative that included as the only choice the bar owners map they had each opposed. I editorialized against it because had the initiative failed it would have been up to a judge to draw new map lines and I reasoned that whatever came out of the judge couldn’t have been worse than the one we eventually got.