Mayor Pro Tem Appointment Saga Continues At Next Council Meeting

Anaheim City Council AB feat

The Mayor Pro Tem selection saga continues into the New Year.

Mayor Tom Tait had expressed his desire to appoint left-wing District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno at the December 5 meeting.  Moreno drew the figurative short-straw after being sworn in as a councilmember in December 2016, and must run for re-election in November 2018.

While the Mayor Pro Tem is a largely ceremonial position, councilmembers seeking re-election covet it as a ballot title.

Tait argued for rotation of the position to allow every councilmember the opportunity to serve in the post. He pointed out that three councilmembers – Moreno, Denise Barnes and Steve Faessel – have not taken a turn in the position, and noted this may be Moreno’s only chance since there’s no guarantee District 3 voters will give him another term. Faessel and Barnes are not on the ballot in 2018.

Councilwoman Kris Murray voiced her objection to the nomination, characterizing Moreno as divisive and saying she’s “feels slighted by [Moreno] at almost every meeting” and “literally attacked.” She said the Mayor Pro Tem has to represent all residents and a more unifying, judicious and respectful person should be appointed, not someone who engders “acrimony.” Murray, who is serving her final year on the council, expressed her support for giving Vanderbilt – who is running for re-election in District 2 – another turn in the post.

Vanderbilt interceded by asking for a continuance to the December 19 council meeting, citing ongoing work on amending the council handbook regarding Mayor Pro Tem rotation and use of the title for political purposes.  Tait agreed without any objection from the council.

When the item was taken up on December 19, Mayor Tait nominated Moreno, who is up for re-election this year. District 1 Councilwoman Denise Barnes seconded the nomination.

Councilwoman Lucille Kring nominated current Mayor Pro Tem James Vanderbilt, also a Tait ally, for another term in the ceremonial position. Her motion was seconded by Councilmembers Kris Murray and Steve Faessel.

Moreno’s nomination failed on a 3-0-4 vote, with Tait, Barnes and Moreno in support and Kring, Murray, Faessel and Vanderbilt abstaining.

Prior to the vote on the motion to re-appoint him, Vanderbilt asked to have the item continued pending codifying rules regarding the Mayor Pro Tem position, such as avoiding back-to-back appointments by formalizing rotation and prohibiting the use of the Mayor Pro Tem title for political purposes.

No one seemed to have an appetite for a dais battle prior to meeting Vanderbilt’s concerns about the “politicization” of the position, and the motion to continue was supported every councilmember except Moreno, who abstained.

The matter will presumably be on the council agenda for the third time on January 9. Councilman Vanderbilt has emerged in recent months as the council’s swing vote, and that promises to be the case here as well given his concern about the politicization of the title.


  1. ANAHEIM open your eyes

    If Moreno gets it, I’m moving out of Anaheim. That guy doesn’t even deserve to be a councilman. He’s a joke. And geeze what a surprise Ms. Barnes followed what Tait asked asked her to do.

  2. Moreno and Tait are directly responsible for the sorry state of affairs in this city. Anaheim will be better off when this clown gets bounced.

  3. It won’t matter if the code is changed because state law controls ballot titles and mayor pro tem isn’t an elected office of our city. So if Moreno uses the title, he’ll get sued and lose.

  4. Well, he can use it in his campaign mailings and TV/Radio ads.

    I agree with Mr. Vanderbilt, anyone running in the 2018 election shouldn’t be given the title. So that rules out Dr. Moreno and Mayor Pro Tem Vanderbilt, leaving councilmembers Barnes and Faessel.

    Ms. Kring made a good point at the last council meeting, that in the past, they would give the title to the new member who got the most votes, which would give the title to Mr. Faessel. With his many years on the City Planning Commission, he would be an excellent choice, and the city staff likes working with him.

  5. The appointment should go to Faessel. He isn’t running in 2018 and isn’t a divisive council member.

  6. When a city leader delays a hot issue, it’s fair to say he’s expecting other issues distract folks from the issue. Mayor Tait has made it public he’s politicising the Pro-Tem position, that’s WRONG! Nobody, not even a buddy, should be appointed to a valued city position to further their political career, especially when that career has had little accomplishments for the City of Anaheim.

    It’s important to appoint a person that cares more about the betterment of Anaheim than party or progressive ideals, which Councilman Moreno leads with.

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