Fresh off the June 3 election, Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons has proposed to place a measure on the November ballot that would eliminate the city’s June elections.
Morro Bay is the only city in San Luis Obispo County that has such an election, which was created under 2006’s Measure S-06. Under Morro Bay’s election rules, candidates for city offices must receive 50 percent plus one vote in June or go to a runoff in the November general election.
This year, for example, voters had to cast two votes for three potential City Council candidates to fill two available seats. Newcomer Matt Makowetski secured the votes he needed to win one seat, while John Headding was just shy of receiving majority support (as of press time) and will face off against incumbent Nancy Johnson in November.
In other cities, the election would have been decided in November with the top two vote getters winning seats.
On June 10, at the close of the regular City Council meeting, Irons asked to bring the item to a future City Council meeting for formal discussion. Councilmembers Noah Smukler and Christine Johnson gave their support, while Nancy Johnson and Councilman George Leage neither supported nor opposed the idea.
Irons told New Times that the June election is a drain on city finances. He added that it opens the possibility for sitting councilmembers to be voted out and remain in office for six months, which he called “very disruptive.”
“Other cities don’t do it,” Irons said. “We really don’t need to do it.”
In 2010, the city shelled out about $10,446 in June, and another $8,357 in November, according to City Clerk Jamie Boucher. There was no runoff in 2012.
Asked why he proposed eliminating the June election one week after this year’s election, Irons said he “didn’t want to politicize it” during the campaign.
City officials are scheduled to bring the issue back at the City Council’s June 24 meeting.