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Ripon adopts rotating chair system for mayor
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RIPON – When it comes to selecting a mayor in Ripon, elected officials were in the practice of appointing one of their own to the post.

“The mayor is not elected by the people,” Mayor Elden ‘Red’ Nutt said at last week’s Ripon City Council meeting. “They chose us to serve (as their representatives).”

Hence the reason for the recently adopted ordinance that gives every Council member a chance to serve as mayor effective January 2013. The person next in line during that time – in this case, Vice Mayor Garry Krebbs – will have the option to take the helm or pass.

“I believe every Councilman is qualified to be mayor,” said Nutt, who indicated that the musical chairs method had been used years ago but as an unwritten part of the ordinance.

He added: “It takes the politics out of the selection process.”

His colleague, Chuck Winn, believed otherwise. He didn’t see the need for the change, voting twice against the amendment.

Winn, who was the previous mayor – he also had two previous stints at the post – said the person chosen as mayor should also “represent Ripon outside of the city limits,” including the San Joaquin Council of Governments and the Local Agency Formation Commission or LAFCo.

He also noted that it’s difficult for any one person to learn the duties of mayor during that one year.

Council members voted 3-1 (Winn was the dissenter while Krebbs was absent) to formally adopt the amendment to the code.

In doing so, they agreed that each seat would be numbered from one to five, with the mayor’s seat always listed as No. 1 and vice mayor as No. 2. Upon the selection of mayor, the person previously holding the post would slide down to the No. 5 seat.

“After all seats are filled according to the foregoing procedure, the Council member in Seat No. 1 shall be asked whether (she or he) is willing to accept the appointment of mayor. If the Council member in Seat No.1 does not want to be mayor, (she or he) can elect to ‘pass,’ in which case, each Council member shall again move seats to the next lowest number,” according to the amendment.

In case of a vacancy, the remaining elected leaders would move up one slot, leaving seat No. 5 vacant. The person who fills the vacancy, in turn, would be placed in that seat.

“This is not set in stone,” Nutt said. “If this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else.”