It didn’t take long for the newly elected San Juan Bautista City Council members to get down to business as they appointed Cesar Flores the city’s new mayor at its Dec. 18 regular meeting.
It’s a common practice that, after serving one year on the local council, vice mayors are promoted to the mayor’s seat.
The vote was 3-2, with new members Flores, Leslie Jordan and Mary Edge in favor of Flores as mayor. Councilmembers Dan De Vries and John Freeman were opposed.
The decision didn’t come without some backlash from the public and Councilmember De Vries.
“It looks like you guys have this all worked out,” De Vries said soon after Edge was appointed vice mayor, also on a 3-2 vote. Edge did not respond to a request for comment.
Voters elected the three new councilmembers on Nov. 6, with Flores obtaining the most votes (388), followed by Jordan (349) and Edge (309).
De Vries spoke to BenitoLink about the meeting on Dec. 19.
“My misgivings don’t have anything to do with [Flores] as a person,” De Vries said. “They have to do with the recognition of decorum protocol and tradition in that Vice Mayor Freeman, it was his year to become mayor. He has served dutifully and tirelessly this city and the citizens of San Juan for many years now.”
Despite that, De Vries said he fully supports Flores as mayor of San Juan Bautista and knows he will do a great job.
Flores told BenitoLink on Dec. 19 he had not met with any of the councilmembers to discuss the nominations.
“As far as the selection, that’s according to the rules,” Flores said. “They are saying that never happened before, it’s bull**** because when Rick Edge was the vice mayor they didn’t make him the mayor either.”
In December 2015, Rick Edge was named mayor after Robert Lund relinquished his title.
At the Dec. 18 meeting, San Juan Bautista resident Mariana Tomas also voiced her concern on the surprising appointments.
“It was always accustomed to pass the gavel to the person of greatest experience and that’s what I wanted to see tonight,” Tomas said. “This is, in my feeling right now, not an auspicious beginning and those of us that feel things need to be done properly will be watching very carefully what this management and council does.”
Sylvia Gonzales also addressed the new council to remind them that they need to make decisions based on San Juan Bautista and not individuals.
“I really don’t give a s%$t what your personal opinions of each other are,” Gonzales said. “Because this is about this county, this town, and everybody else who lives on the other side of the road in the new housing project, everywhere.”
Before the meeting ended, Flores made a brief statement and thanked those who voted for the new council.
“I promise to do as good job as I can,” Flores said.
Jordan and Edge also thanked the public and said they were excited and looked forward to their terms.
Before the new councilmembers were sworn in by Supervisor Anthony Botelho (San Juan Bautista is in his district), outgoing councilmembers Chris Martorana, Tony Boch and Jim West received plaques for their service. The three did not seek reelection. West took his life on Dec. 6.
Botelho accepted West’s plaque and said he would present it to West’s daughter on the first weekend of January.
As he presented the plaque to Botelho, De Vries said, “Without getting choked up, I want to say that Jim West was my friend and he was yours, too. He was a valuable asset to this community and he will be very, very sorely missed.”
Freeman said it was an honor serving alongside West, Martorana and Boch.
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