Skip to Content

‘I feel embarrassed for our city’; City Council debate leaves San Mateo without a mayor

<i>KPIX</i><br/>On December 5th
On December 5th


Click here for updates on this story

    SAN MATEO, California (KPIX) — Bucking a 128-year-old tradition, a heated city council dispute has left San Mateo without a mayor.

For more than a century, the city has a rotational system where the most senior councilmember is selected mayor.

But now two brand new councilmembers are blocking attempts to elevate Councilwoman Amourence Lee to the office.

Sunday will be day number 7 that San Mateo still doesn’t have a mayor. It’s the largest city on the peninsula and in San Mateo County.

On December 5th, the city council was supposed to elect Lee to be the next mayor. It would have made her the first Asian American female mayor of San Mateo.

“I believe that we are in unchartered and very dangerous territory,” Lee told KPIX. “And I absolutely believe that this is sowing seeds of division and strife that will take years to repair. And I’ve heard from so many of my community members, including the API and Jewish community members, who feel incredibly cheated. We’re told to wait our turn and then that turn doesn’t come.”

She doesn’t want to speculate on the motive. But some elected leaders in the county and neighboring cities have rallied around her and criticized the block.

“I feel embarrassed for our city,” Lee said. “And I feel sad and scared for the precedent that this is setting.”

Lisa Diaz Nash and Robert Newsom are the two councilmembers who blocked the nomination.

“No (beef between us), I mean Councilmember Lee and I’ve worked together before,” Nash said. “She supports many of the same issues that I support. And she is a very capable woman.”

“Once we select that fifth councilmember, then we can turn to have all five of them to select the mayor and deputy mayor. And at that point, I look forward to proudly voting for Councilmember Lee as our next mayor.”

The fifth councilmember, Diane Papan, just vacated her seat after she was elected to the State Assembly.

The remaining four councilmembers are all Democrats, but political experts said they don’t agree on some issues, such as housing.

Political experts believe that fifth councilmember will serve as a tiebreaker on the council and shape future policies in the city.

They said had the council elected Lee as the mayor back on December 5th, she would have had more power to pick an ally to serve as that fifth councilmember.

“We are in an unprecedented time and the council is working on getting that fifth member,” Nash said. “And as soon as we get that fifth member, we will select the mayor and deputy mayor. So I don’t see this as an embarrassment at all.”

The four-person council is scheduled to select a fifth councilmember on Monday, December 12th. Once that happens, the plan is to then vote Lee as the mayor.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content