SOUTH EL MONTE — Al Perez likes being the city's elected mayor but will give up that distinction Tuesday if voters decide that it is better to have the mayor appointed by the City Council.
Perez said he grudgingly went along with the four City Council members in supporting a ballot measure that would end the city's 8-year practice of electing the mayor separately from the council.
"I'm supporting it only for the purpose of keeping peace in the family," said Perez, who was reelected to his second two-year term in April.
Perez conceded, however, that the expense of running for mayor--now about twice what a council bid costs--is a strong argument for reverting back to rotating the mayor's position among council members. Moreover, he said, an appointed mayor could stop looking over his shoulder.
"It's very tough running every two years," he said. "You can't concentrate on what you do" while in office.
The measure would also prevent an incumbent council member from running for a separate mayor's position without risking his seat, said City Atty. Steve Dorsey. Currently, he said, "it's sort of like (Democratic vice presidential candidate Lloyd) Bentsen running for the U.S. Senate and vice president."
An initiative in 1980 changed the mayor's office to an elected post. But the voters' ardor for mayoral accountability has seemingly faded. No argument was submitted in opposition to Proposition LL, and there was no opposition during the City Council discussion, said City Clerk Margaret Garcia.
If the measure is passed, Perez would become a councilman. Because council members serve 4 years, his term in office would be extended to April, 1992. The order in which the mayor's seat would rotate would be determined by the council.