The big question Tuesday night when the City Council reshuffles its leadership is not who is going to mayor. It’s, who’s going to be mayor pro tem?
A mayor pro tem steps in when the mayor can’t attend a meeting or event, like the grand opening ceremony on Friday for the new Rok Prime steakhouse. Mayor Pro Tem John Taylor took over ribbon-cutting duties for Mayor Larry Kramer.
A mayor pro tem is also – usually – the next one in line to get the gavel and be mayor for the following year. In San Juan Capistrano, we rotate our mayors instead of electing someone permanently to that position.
Typically, the City Council members take turns in order of seniority in attempt to give everyone a chance. But the normal order of events was rocked two years ago, when the council bypassed then-mayor pro tem Laura Freese, opting to make Councilman Sam Allevato mayor and Kramer mayor pro tem.
Freese was again overlooked last year, . Both Kramer and Taylor are newcomers to the City Council as of the November 2010 election.
Based on seniority and who hasn’t yet had a turn with the gavel, Councilman Derek Reeve would be next to be mayor pro tem, becoming mayor in his last year of his current term.
But after the November 2012 election, the City Council is now divided in a 3-2 split, with former mayor from the 1970s Roy Byrnes reclaiming a seat on the dais. Byrnes is philosophically aligned with Reeve, while Kramer, Taylor and Allevato represent more of the status quo that has ruled the council for years.
So who will get the chance to be mayor pro tem? Will it be Derek Reeve, who’s been stuck on the losing end of many 4-1 votes these last two years? Will it be Allevato, who just served as mayor last year? Will a newcomer get it again like in 2010?