Rich Cline re-elected mayor of Menlo Park

Council leaves policy behind in wake of Brown Act violations

The man who put down the Menlo Park mayor's gavel last week has now picked it back up.

The City Council unanimously elected Rich Cline to a second term as mayor Tuesday night (Dec. 14) to fill the vacuum left by Kelly Fergusson's resignation from the position.

Kirsten Keith retained her position as vice mayor, thanks to an equally unanimous vote.

Elected mayor last week by a split 3-2 vote, with Peter Ohtaki and Andy Cohen dissenting, Fergusson resigned on Dec. 10 following the revelation of Brown Act violations committed as she lobbied at least two council colleagues for the position.

City residents had plenty to say during the public comment period preceding the vote. Some suggested Cohen pick up the gavel, others Cline, but all expressed dismay over the violation of public trust.

"I'd say the theme for this evening is disappointment," Ed Moritz told the council. "For those who recommended following the policy, for the council members who voted based on the policy. All this disappointment is the result of at least one council member."

By the city's non-binding policy, Fergusson and Cohen were the members of the council most eligible to pick up the gavel, as members must serve at least one year on the council before becoming mayor.

If the candidates have all served as mayor before, then the one with the longest time elapsed since holding the position gets priority, which left Cohen as the front-runner had policy been followed.

Former council member Heyward Robinson spoke at the meeting on Tuesday night, saying that despite his great respect for Cohen, the councilman's erratic behavior led him to reluctantly conclude Cohen should not serve as mayor.

The mayoral policy has been ignored at least twice by previous councils since its enactment in 1993. At the Dec. 14 meeting, Keith nominated and Ohtaki seconded Cline as mayor, and the vote proceeded without debate.

Fergusson said little during the re-vote besides repeating last week's nomination of Kirsten Keith as vice mayor.


Like this comment
Posted by Brian Steen
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Dec 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm

The Menlo Council made the right choice. Rich is articulate and knowledgeable on issues, particularly High Speed Rail.

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