San Diego Governance: City Council (legislators) with Strong Mayor (chief executive)

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Do you know your San Diego Strong Mayor history? On January 1, 2006, the City of San Diego’s system of government changed from a City Manager form to a Strong Mayor form for a five-year trial basis, approved by city voters in November 2004. In June 2010, the voters elected to make the change permanent.

  • Strong Mayor: Under Strong Mayor governance, the Mayor is the City’s chief executive officer, similar to the governor or the president. This new form of governance removed the Mayor from the legislative body, and installed the Mayor as the de facto executive director of the departments and employees overseeing the City’s day-to-day operations.
  • City Council: The Council is the legislative body, providing checks and balances to the Mayor’s authority. Strong Mayor governance introduced the concept of a Council President, chosen annually by a majority vote of the Council, to chair and set the agenda of the City Council meetings. The City Clerk, appointed by Council, also serves as Clerk to the Council.

In November 2004, San Diego voters approved Proposition F, which added Article XV to the City Charter, changing the City’s Council-Manager form of governance to a Mayor-Council (Strong Mayor) form of governance on a five-year trial basis. The trial period began Jan. 1, 2006 and ended Dec. 31, 2010.

On June 8, 2010, San Diego voters made permanent the New Strong Mayor Form of Governance by approving Proposition D on June 8, 2010. By passing Proposition D, voters also approved the addition of a ninth Council district, to be established by redistricting following the 2010 Census. Effective when the ninth Councilmember is seated (Dec. 3, 2012), the number of Council votes required to override a Mayoral veto on any matter will be six (two-thirds).

Throughout the transition to a Strong Mayor Form of Governance, the City Council sought to expand the number of Council Committees and redefine their role and purpose, choosing to funnel more legislative items to Council Committees to allow for increased public input and a fuller vetting process before items were sent to the full Council for consideration.

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