South San Francisco, CA December 12, 2022
Protest scheduled to Demand San Mateo City Council Elect a Mayor after Two New Council Members Obstruct Mayoral Selection
San Mateo, CA –
Civic leaders and community members have organized a protest in front of San Mateo City Hall to demand all City Council members uphold the City Charter and immediately vote in a Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
The protest will be held on Monday, December 12 at 6 pm in front of City Hall (330 W 20th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403).
The planned protest comes after the breach of a 128-year tradition of peaceful transfer of power during San Mateo’s annual City Council reorganization meeting. Freshmen councilmembers Lisa Diaz Nash and Robert Newsom Jr., cousin of Governor Gavin Newsom, disregarded the City Manager and City Attorney’s recommendation to comply with City Charter Section 2.09. They refused to complete their first and only task as council members by electing a Mayor and Deputy Mayor on Monday, December 5, 2022, the same day they took the oath of office.
The departure from protocol and decorum has earned the attention of California State Senator Josh Becker and Congressman-Elect Kevin Mullin, who have made statements supporting Councilwoman Amourence Lee for Mayor of the City of San Mateo. The San Mateo County Democratic Party also released a statement condemning the actions of Nash and Newsom, calling on them to correct course and appoint Lee as Mayor. Community members organized a Change.org petition which has gathered over 500 signatures.
After a second hours-long meeting that lasted until midnight on Wednesday, December 7, Newsom and Nash again refused to confirm a Mayor and Deputy Mayor. They stated that they wished to first fill an unrelated council vacancy prior to selecting the Mayor despite the City Charter prescribing no such pre-condition for mayoral selection.
As such, the largest city in San Mateo County is in an unprecedented situation of having no Mayor or Deputy Mayor to chair council meetings, act as spokesperson for the city in the event of an emergency, or carry out other mayoral duties. The continued failure to appoint a Mayor and Deputy Mayor puts an undue burden on city staff, risking prolonged dysfunction, instability, and stagnation of the legislative body. This could impede San Mateo’s representation on regional boards and commissions, as these appointments are made by the Mayor.
Councilmember Adam Loraine nominated Lee as mayor multiple times over the course of the Monday and Wednesday meetings. However, each motion failed when council members Nash and Newsom repeatedly voted no, but emphasized they would likely support Lee as mayor after the fifth council member was seated. Community members criticized Newsom and Nash for being “disingenuous,” accusing them of trying to bend the rules through loopholes to further their political agenda and cheating the community of its rightful Mayor.
Based on city council guidelines, Councilmember Amourence Lee is due for rotation as Mayor. Lee has served on the San Mateo City Council since 2019 and is the only experienced councilmember on the dais. She is also the only remaining councilmember elected at-large by nearly 24,000 voters—more than the total number of votes electing all three other council members combined. Councilmember Lee would be the first Asian-American Jewish woman Mayor in the city’s 128-year history.
San Mateo City Councilwoman Amourence Lee has lived in San Mateo with her family for over a decade. She joined the council in 2019, and is the first Asian woman and Jew of Color to hold the office in San Mateo.