The Coast News Group
Community CommentaryOpinion

What the role of the mayor is and isn’t

Now that the voters will directly elect the mayor for the first time it’s important to understand exactly what the mayor can and more importantly cannot do.

The first thing to know is that the position in Encinitas is not a “Strong Mayor.” Unlike the city of San Diego, which has a voter-approved charter that gives additional power and authority to the mayor, Encinitas is a general law city, which is governed by numerous provisions within state law.

In other words, the mayor is still one of the five members of the City Council, each with one vote.

This means the mayor does not have veto power over council actions, cannot direct the city manager or city staff and cannot authorize expenditures on their own.

The mayor is the presiding officer of the City Council, the ceremonial representative of the city and has a few administrative duties as defined in the Municipal Code.

The mayor has the authority to make appointments to regional boards and city commissions. However, the Council must approve the recommendations.

The mayor meets with the city manager to set the agenda but does not direct which items will or will not be included. Many items are routine in nature and are generally placed on the Consent Calendar as determined by the city manager. The city manager and department directors also place administrative items on the regular agenda, as needed. The city manager is responsible for follow-up on council requested agenda items and adding them to the agenda in a timely fashion.

It is not the mayor’s role to approve the content of staff reports. Council member initiated agenda items are not reviewed or approved by the city manager or mayor.

The mayor is the symbol of the city, representing the city at civic or regional functions. When representing the city in an official capacity it is the duty of the mayor to represent the position of the City Council, even if he/she does not personally agree with it.

When the mayor was appointed by the council they could also take that position away if they felt it was necessary to do so. Now only the voters can remove an elected mayor.

I encourage you to attend a forum to meet the candidates and decide for yourself who you think will best represent the city of Encinitas.

Teresa Arballo Barth is an Encinitas city councilmember and former mayor.