Newly elected Mayor Mike Signer promised respect and results at the first City Council meeting of the year but received a test in maintaining order when he was greeted by protesters and disrupted twice by angry constituents. The council elected another first-termer, Wes Bellamy, vice mayor.
Rumors that Signer would be the next mayor were confirmed at the beginning of the January 4 council meeting, and press releases announcing the new leadership went out within 10 minutes of the meeting’s start.
The amount of money spent on the race—nearly $100,000, the costliest council election ever—was one issue cited during public comment, along with the “systemic racism” that divides the city economically. “You’re absolutely right,” said Bellamy of the latter. “We’re prepared to deal with that.”
Civil rights attorney Jeff Fogel was the first to comment, and he denounced the behind-the-scenes selection of mayor. He said it was hard to believe Signer’s support of transparency “when you start out with no transparency.” Bellamy later said he was happy to discuss why he voted for Signer.
Paul Long, a former City Council candidate, organized a protest about development and gentrification before the meeting. He, too, was concerned about the amount of money spent on the election and said, “I’m very cynical about this council.” When he ran out of time during public comment and Signer cut him off, Long said, “You’re in the pocket of big business.”
After public comment and follow-ups from councilors, Fogel stood up and began to respond to Bellamy. “This is not proper procedure,” Signer said repeatedly. “You’re a lawyer. You know parliamentary procedure.”