Councilmember Randy Pope asked the council at last Tuesday’s meeting to reconsider its decision to keep Romick and Rios in the same positions they held in 2012. At the final meeting of the year on Dec. 11, Rios was to rotate into the mayor’s position and Pope would have customarily been nominated to serve as vice mayor. Rios informed the council at that meeting that she didn’t believe she could commit to serving as mayor due to a family obligation and asked the council to support keeping Romick in the mayor’s seat.
The council unanimously supported the decision, but when it came to choose the 2013 vice mayor, new councilmember Diane Burgis suggested Rios stay in the position so that she could rotate into the mayor’s seat in 2014. Since Rios has publically stated she has no intention to run for re-election, 2014 would be her final year on the council. The motion passed 3-2, Pope and Doug Hardcastle dissenting.
“I was taken completely by surprise by the motion,” said Pope at last Tuesday’s meeting. “I’m trying not to take it personally but as you can imagine, it’s pretty hard not to. If things continue the way they are set to continue, I would be the first person on the Oakley City Council to be deprived of the opportunity to serve as vice mayor or mayor.”
Pope said he wished Rios had approached him prior to the meeting to discuss her decision. He said he would have been more than willing to take on the role of vice mayor and fill in as mayor and run meetings and attend events were she ever unable to fulfill her mayoral duties. Rios was absent from last Tuesday’s meeting and unable to present her rationale.
Pope said he understands the sentiment of letting Rios end her 15-year tenure on the council as mayor, but the decision has “blocked” him from getting the opportunity to serve his community in the highest seat.
Since the item was not agendized for discussion at the last council meeting, City Attorney Derek Cole recommended that councilmembers not share their thoughts on the matter and instead put the item on the Jan. 22 agenda. Residents would then get the opportunity to offer their input.
City Manager Bryan Montgomery said the Jan. 22 meeting will run as a regularly scheduled meeting. Mayor Romick will preside until the mayoral item comes up for discussion, after which changes will be made as necessary.
During the discussion, the council will also redefine the parameters of the city’s rotational mayor system in order to put a procedure in place should a future council member refuse the mayor’s seat.