Huntington Beach’s Charter Review Commission voted last week to recommend making the city’s mayor a directly elected position rather than one appointed by the City Council every year. According to the commission’s staff liaison, the change would have almost no impact on the mayor’s powers or duties, but would give him or her more clout in dealing with other politicians in the region.
On paper, the proposed change looks like a mere formality. But many local leaders, including current and former mayors, expressed strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Mayor Keith Bohr said rotating the city’s leader every year diminishes the power of the office and makes it harder to carry out long-term projects, while Commissioner Joe Shaw said a steady stream of mayors ensures that all political views are heard.
While we see both sides, we’re inclined to agree with Shaw. A mayor elected to a four-year term may appear a more influential figure to some, but because his or her duties would be no different than that of a council member, it’s hard to see how the change would make Huntington Beach a noticeably different city.