Acting San Diego Mayor Ed Struiksma again attempted to push through several nominations to important city boards and commissions Monday, on the eve of today's mayoral balloting, but backed off after several council members balked and two mayoral candidates objected.
Maureen O'Connor and Floyd Morrow, both major candidates for mayor, urged Struiksma to put off the appointments until a new mayor is chosen, a plea that was echoed by Councilmen William Jones and Mike Gotch. The third major candidate, Councilman Bill Cleator, who opposed Struiksma's earlier attempts to make the appointments while he is acting mayor, was absent from Monday's council session, reportedly ill.
Gotch, stressing that he had no quarrel with the quality of the candidates Struiksma has nominated, argued that the city's new political leader, not its interim acting mayor, should be the one to nominate candidates for the city posts.
Struiksma, after a motion by Gotch to postpone the voting until next week failed to gain the needed five votes, brought the issue before the divided council again and was successful in gaining appointment of attorney James Dawe to the city Library Commission.
But when ballots were distributed for selection of two members to the Stadium Authority board, Gotch and Jones announced that they would not cast ballots on the appointments and Councilwoman Abbe Wolfsheimer, after a brief whispered conversation with Struiksma, left the council chambers.
Struiksma, faced with only four voting members remaining in their seats and needing five votes for the appointments, bowed to defeat and continued discussion of the remainder of the appointments until next week.
He said after the meeting that he "felt I was only following the City Charter" in pushing for immediate action on the vacancies.
Struiksma said he had received letters from the chairmen of the Library Commission and Stadium Authority board asking for immediate council action to fill the vacancies and had been told by four other council members that he had their support.
Wolfsheimer said she had erred in making that commitment to Struiksma. She did so, she said, because she thought that there would be three vacancies on the Stadium Authority board and had made a commitment to three of the nominees to support them. When she learned that only two vacancies existed, she said, she decided to absent herself from the council chambers.
The third Stadium Authority vacancy had been filled by a council vote in January when board chairman David Lippett was reappointed.
"I admit that I am still a little green behind the ears," Wolfsheimer said. "I made a procedural error."
Struiksma at one point advised Gotch and Jones that the City Charter did not permit them to refuse to vote unless they had a personal conflict of interest in the issue.
"You must vote or you must leave the room," he told Gotch and Williams. However, when Gotch angrily refused to do either, Struiksma backed down and announced that he would not press the issue.
Also shelved until next week were appointments to the Public Arts Advisory Board, Noise Control Board and Civil Service Commission.
The appointments issue aligned all three front-runners in today's mayoral race against Struiksma.
Morrow told the council Monday that the Stadium Authority appointments "have the appearance of conflict of interest" because one nominee--Eileen Haag, editor of a suburban North City newspaper--had endorsed one of the mayoral candidates, and another--political consultant Robert Miller III--was treasurer of Cleator's campaign organization.
However, neither was nominated by Struiksma. Haag is a Gotch nominee and Miller was named by Jones.