Council Majority Chipping Away at Mayor’s Authority

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Members of Santa Ana’s new City Council majority took another step Monday toward making good on their vow to strip Mayor Miguel Pulido of some of his power by taking away the mayor’s authority to make council subcommittee appointments.

That power will instead rest with the council majority. Pulido voted along with the majority in a unanimous vote to strip the mayor’s seat of the power. He didn’t comment on the move.

Yet despite Pulido’s yes vote, the decision was the latest aimed at decentralizing power on the council and to reduce the influence of the 10-term mayor. Members of the council majority argue that Pulido has over the years accumulated singular authority over City Hall and has ignored the will of the council majority.

“It goes back to what we were talking about, decentralizing power bit by bit,” said Councilman Sal Tinajero, who called the effort against Pulido the “Santa Ana Spring” in reference to the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.

At the council meeting earlier this month, Tinajero was unanimously appointed mayor pro tem, a position he says he will hand off to another council member in two years. He said he hopes to begin a tradition whereby council members rotate the mayor pro tem title regularly. The rotation of the title would help council members enhance their leadership abilities, Tinajero says.

The council majority, led by Councilwoman Michele Martinez, also pushed for a term limit that caps the mayor’s time in office at four, two-year terms. Voters last month approved the term limit measure.

Tinajero declared that more diffusion of power is on the way, though he declined to specify what the next moves would be. “There’s a lot that’s going to be done this month, an attempt to change the power source,” he said.

In other council action, council representatives were appointed to various regional boards.

Here are the appointments, which were unanimously approved:

  • Councilman David Benavides will head to the Orange County Sanitation District board, with Tinajero as the alternate.
  • Councilman Vincent Sarmiento was appointed to the Orange County Water District board, with Councilman Roman Reyna the alternate.
  • Tinajero was appointed to the Orange County Fire Authority board, with Councilwoman Angelica Amezcua the alternate.
  • And Martinez was appointed to the Foothill-Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency board.
— ADAM ELMAHREK

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