The 12 mayors of Monterey County's cities are scheduled to meet for lunch today, May 3, at the Windmill Restaurant in Soledad. It's part of their usual monthly gathering, a chance for mayors to get updates on county business and report back from the various agencies on which they serve.
Occasionally, this group of mayors also convenes to appoint members to those various agencies, like the Monterey Bay Community Power board, Local Agency Formation Commission, Monterey County Water Resources Agency and Monterey Peninsula Water Management District.
When they met on Jan. 4, for their first meeting of the year, they made appointments to several such regional boards. One was the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, the agency currently charged with conducting a study of whether it is feasible to buy out California American Water, per Measure J. That means this is a particularly high-stakes year for the water district, and the composition of that board is closely watched.
So when Carmel Mayor Dave Potter was appointed by a 3-1 vote, with Monterey Mayor Clyde Roberson abstaining and newly elected Del Rey Oaks Mayor Alison Kerr absent because she was running late, public water advocates wanted to see a revote. If Kerr had been in the room, the thinking goes, there might've been a 3-3 vote, at least challenging Potter—who formerly served on the MPWMD board, and who has in the past opposed a public buyout.
Fast-forward to April 5, and when the mayors convened for their monthly meeting in Seaside. That's when the mayors engaged in a vigorous discussion of the byzantine appointment process and what it would take to revisit a prior appointment.
With requests for a revote, the chair, Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma, invited the 12 mayors to submit their requests to hold a revote or not. If at least six of them wanted a re-do, they'd proceed.
Those requests are in, copies of which were obtained by the Weekly via a Public Records Act request. Seven mayors said no to a re-vote (Potter; Ledesma; Joe Gunter of Salinas; Mary Ann Carbone of Sand City; Mike LeBarre of King City; Lance Walker of Greenfield; and Maria Orozco of Gonzales) meaning it didn't make the agenda for reconsideration.
Only four mayors called for a revote: Monterey's Clyde Roberson, who abstained last time; Marina's Bruce Delgado; Kerr, who missed the first vote; and Seaside's Ian Oglebsy.
(Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Peake, the lone no vote last time, did not make a request either way.)
That brings us to today, when the mayors are meeting. The City Select Committee was also scheduled to meet to make several appointments, including to the influential LAFCO board—but the MPWMD was not on the list, because it didn't get the six votes needed to make the agenda.
Yesterday, however, Ledesma called to cancel the meeting entirely.
It's partly because Kerr is missing the meeting, because she's in Washington, D.C. for work this week.
"I said look, I don't want anyone to feel like the Mayors Selection Committee is doing things on a whim, and the mayor from Del Rey Oaks is not going to be there," Ledesma says. "I don't want anyone to say, 'It's a violation.'"
"I don't want to cause any more grief among people or splintering."
For her part, Kerr doesn't say how she would've voted, or how she would if the matter came up for a re-vote.
"The way the vote happened, I wasn't there. I know people say it's surrounding me but it has nothing to do with me," she says. "I did ask for a revote because the public is not trusting the process and ultimately that's what I wanted a revote for—so it was clean, it was clear, and we just start over. It is disappointing that we're not going to revisit it."
Ledesma says the other appointments that had been on today's agenda—to LAFCO, the Airport Land Use Commission and Community Restorative Justice Commission—will be rescheduled for a later date. The Water Management District appointment will not be.