Letter to the Editor: Judge the mayor pro tem on his actions and abilities

Dear Editor:

After listening to the public comment at the recent city council meeting, I feel compelled to address the city council members who chose to initially bypass Sean Ashton for mayor pro tem.

The pertinent question is what we as a city see as the position of mayor. Should it be a strictly honorary position where the next in line simply steps up into it? Or should it be a position where a certain level of knowledge, expertise, commitment and ability to dedicate the needed time to represent and lead our city to new and great heights is required?

Our current system has been designed for the latter. We do not, as a city at large, elect our mayor. We allow our city council to make that selection based on their best judgement. Based on what they feel is best for our community.

These members have all demonstrated tremendous dedication, commitment and professionalism over the years within our community. These are the people who know how their fellow council members interact with staff, deal with difficult and intricate city matters and the amount of time they can and have been able to dedicate. It's with this knowledge that at least two of the four council members made their initial decision. They are independent thinkers who did what they felt was right and best for the city despite the political incorrectness fallout they knew would follow.

I'm not saying that Mr. Ashton is not qualified to move to the role of mayor pro tem and eventually mayor. I don't have, nor do most citizens have, that detailed knowledge. What I believe should have happened is that if the council members who feel that bypassing a council member is indeed the best course of action for the city, that they should be fully prepared to make a strong and detailed case as to why they would take such a bold stand. I'm not sure that kind of presentation was made in an open forum either two weeks ago or last Tuesday night.

I do know that these councilmen who chose that direction are good people who have great reputations and have done nothing but terrific things for our community and that their intentions shouldn't be "villainized" into something that doesn't represent their intentions or reputations. It shows strong leadership and the willingness to take tough positions for the betterment of our community in spite of appearances.

Last Tuesday's reversal is allowing Mr. Ashton to step into the role of mayor pro-tem. Hopefully the other council members will be able to work closely with him and at the end of the year have open, honest, discussions and review of the mayor pro tem's abilities to step into the mayor's position and then make the difficult decision, based on critical thinking and actual performance, on the selection of our next mayor and share that analysis in an open forum.

This kind of unbiased, process is what we expect of our leaders and is exactly what they have demonstrated to us over their years of service. Assuming they are making that decision for their own self interest or ego, is not fair to them. It takes courage and true leadership to make tough decisions even if they sometimes appear to be politically incorrect.

Jim Rodriguez
Downey