New Lines

Tyller Williamson (pictured with renters’ advocate Esther Malkin) is the first candidate to announce a 2022 run for mayor in Monterey. Candidates have until Aug. 12 to file papers.

For the last seven-plus years, Clyde Roberson has served as Monterey’s mayor, a role he also held for four years in the mid-1980s. He also served as a councilmember for about 14 years in both the ’80s and ’90s.

But a changing of the guard might be in the offing: On June 15, council member Tyller Williamson, the youngest member of the City Council, filed papers with the city announcing his intent to run for mayor. Williamson, 34, became Monterey’s first Black, and first openly gay council member after being elected in 2018.

Exactly who, if anyone, Williamson will face off with in November remains unclear; Roberson, citing an illness, declined to comment on whether he plans to seek re-election.

A potential heir apparent, should Roberson decide not to run again, is council member Dan Albert Jr., who was first elected in 2016. Albert’s father, Dan Albert, succeeded Roberson as mayor in 1986, and served in the position for 20 years before retiring from public office.

Albert Jr.’s current term doesn’t expire until 2024. Should the mayor’s seat open up, he says, “I just haven’t made a decision about which direction I’d like to go.”

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In the backdrop of the mayoral campaign is the redistricting process the city has undergone in recent months: Last September, the Salinas-based chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, sent a letter threatening to sue the city if it didn’t transition from at-large council elections to district-based elections, which would ensure that every part of the city is represented on the council.

The council approved maps for four districts – those running for mayor can live anywhere in the city, and the mayor will still be elected at-large. Currently, Williamson lives in District 1 (New Monterey), Roberson and councilmembers Alan Haffa and Dan Albert live in District 3 (Monte Vista neighborhood) and Ed Smith lives in District 2, which encompasses downtown and lower Monte Vista.

Districts 1 and 2 will be up for election this year, which means Williamson is passing on the opportunity to run in his district as an incumbent.

Williamson says a key issue that will define his campaign is housing, and creating more of it. In tandem with that, noting that about two-thirds of the city’s residents are renters (unlike all five council members), he wants to look at renter assistance programs.

He adds that Monterey could be doing more on regional issues, like water and transportation. “There’s a huge opportunity for Monterey to really step up there,” he says.

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