La Canada : Mayor of 2 Weeks Quits as Matter of Policy

Times Staff Writer

After serving two weeks as mayor of La Canada Flintridge, O. Warren Hillgren resigned Monday night after the discovery of a resolution forbidding any council member from being mayor more than once in four years.

The resolution, which was passed by the La Canada Flintridge City Council in 1982, says no person shall serve as mayor or mayor pro tem for more than one year during any four-year term of office. Hillgren, elevated to the mayoral post two weeks ago by his colleagues, last served as mayor in 1986.

The forgotten policy was revealed in an article Saturday in the Foothill Leader.

Hillgren said he had no recollection of the resolution, although he was on the council when it was passed and had voted in favor of it.

Other council members and city staff members apparently did not know about the resolution either. Hillgren said he and Councilwoman Joan Feehan were surprised when the resolution was pointed out to them.

The resolution also provides for the automatic succession of mayor pro tem to the position of mayor. If the council decides to adhere to the resolution, Mayor Pro Tem Edmund Krause will become mayor unless he declines or the council elects another mayor by a four-vote majority.

Appointment Questioned

Councilman Chris Valente, who had questioned Hillgren's appointment during the council's mayoral vote two weeks ago, said city staff told him there were no rules limiting the number of times a council member could be mayor.

"It was still bothering me," Valente said. "I went to the city manager. He said there was nothing. The city clerk said there was nothing. They should have known."

Although La Canada Flintridge city attorneys said the resolution is only a policy statement and the council is not legally bound by it, Hillgren said he would not be comfortable continuing as mayor.

"I appreciate the opinion of the city attorney," Hillgren said, "but I feel there is somewhat of a cloud on what the City Council did two weeks ago. There is a cloud on Mr. Krause and me."

Will Be Considered

The full council must now consider whether to accept Hillgren's resignation and whether to keep the resolution as it is, modify it or abandon it.

However, no action will take place for at least a month, since the full council must be present to decide whether to approve Hillgren's resignation and Feehan will be out of town for the next meeting, May 1.

Of when the council will vote on a new mayor, Feehan said, "We're assuming the second meeting in May, but you never know."

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