"I'm not a weak councilmember, relative to a strong mayor, and I think that should be made clear," said district three councilmember Todd Gloria at the Wednesday, January 13, meeting of the Rules Committee. Gloria was speaking to a measure that will appear on the June ballot, part of a five-year review of the strong mayor form of government that could make it permanent.
Councilmembers would like to add some muscle to the city council by adding a ninth council seat and by implementing a six-vote override of a mayoral veto. In addition, they would like to place a companion measure that would legally change the name of the strong mayor form of government to strong mayor/strong council.
During public comment, several residents praised the strong mayor model over the former city manager-type of government. Many of those same residents asked that the wording on the ballot be simple and urged councilmembers to omit the companion measure.
"I urge you to keep this ballot measure short and simple," said Donna Jones, member of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. "There's really no money in the budget to do a companion measure, to change the name of the form of government. You already are a strong council, regardless of the name."
"The more you put to it, the more opportunities there are for people to object to things that aren't a part of the strong mayor form of government. You do a disservice to the public if you add more to that," said resident Andy Berg.
Residents weren't the only ones who wanted an abbreviated version of the ballot measure. A representative from the mayor's office spoke to the length of the initiative. "It's almost twice that of the original measure. That seems a little counterintuitive, and we're wondering if there might be some kind of movement to bring back a shortened version."
According to deputy city attorney Jo Kiernan, the current "short version" of the ballot measure will be substantial in length, but it's "about as short as you can get." Kiernan informed the council that the reason for its length is the addition of the ninth council district as well as the necessity to include language about the changes to the election districts that adding another seat would create.
Council president Ben Hueso: "I completely understand the proponents of this measure that want a simple ballot item, but there's nothing simple about this."
After councilmember comments, the rules committee unanimously agreed to forward the so-called short version of the ballot measure to the full city council.