Council delays vote on strong-mayor system

The San Diego City Council put off Monday a decision on whether to put a measure on the June 8 ballot that would make the strong-mayor form of government permanent and create a ninth council seat.

The City Council voted 6-2 to table the issue until Feb. 16.

Councilmen Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer wanted the hearing to proceed Monday, but Councilwoman Donna Frye requested the delay so that the issue could be further vetted at Wednesday’s meeting of the Rules, Open Government and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

The strong-mayor system was approved by voters for a five-year trial period with the passage of Proposition F in 2005. The system will be automatically repealed on Dec. 31 unless it is made permanent by voters.

Under the switch to a strong-mayor form of government, San Diego’s mayor assumed the duties previously held by a city manager, such as hiring and firing department heads and proposing the budget. In the process, the mayor ceased to be a voting member of the City Council, which now consists of eight members.

The mayor was given veto power, but that mayoral veto can be overturned by a simple majority vote on the council. The even number of council members has led to a few stalemates.

In addition to asking voters whether to extend or make permanent the strong-mayor form of government, the measure would add a ninth City Council district to coincide with the 2010 U.S. Census. It would also require a two-thirds majority to override a mayoral veto.