Harper wants city to vote on chance to elect the mayor

Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper announced late Tuesday that he is seeking a charter amendment to allow Surf City residents to directly elect their mayor.

He said he will ask the city attorney at the City Council meeting Monday to draft a proposed amendment in an effort to have it placed on the November ballot. Such a move would need the approval of the council.

"We are one of the largest cities [in Orange County] that doesn't have [an elected mayor]," Harper said. He added that having a mayor who can serve for multiple years creates continuity.

Huntington Beach currently has a rotating mayor's seat. Council members have the chance to serve one year as mayor pro tem and one as the mayor during a four-year term.

Orange County cities that directly elect their mayor include Irvine, Santa Ana, Anaheim and Westminster.

Aside from having a mayor in office for a longer term, Harper said he believes that residents would simply like the ability to select the person.

"It's been a tradition — it's not really enforced by anything — to have a new mayor for each year," he said.

Councilwoman Connie Boardman said she hasn't heard any resident asking for an elected mayor and that a change wasn't voted on during the city's charter review four years ago.

"This is not something that I think the citizens are clamoring for," she said. "The people that have expressed interest in it in the past are council members, because they want another office to run for when they're termed out."

Councilman Joe Carchio said the current system, allowing for equal power among the council members, is fine.

"If it's not broke, don't fix it, and that's what I think about this," he said. "It's worked so well for us for such a long time. I'd hate to see this bickering and the elevation of partisanship when you elect the mayor. I think you're just creating bigger problems."

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