By Lynne Bronstein
Observer Reporter 

Culver's New Mayor: Jeff Cooper


April 25, 2013

Culver’s New Mayor: Jeff Cooper

Sahli-Wells Becomes Vice Mayor

Culver City’s new Mayor is Jeffrey Cooper; the Vice Mayor is Meghan Sahli-Wells.

The new leaders of the City Council were chosen at Monday night’s Council meeting. The Mike Balkman Council chamber was filled to capacity with people who wanted to see the changeover. Some of them also wanted to voice their opinions to the Council.

Public comment saw no less than 17 speakers, sounding off on issues ranging from plastic bag disposal and fracking (it was Earth Day) to gun control and proposals to ban smoking.

The choices of Cooper and Sahli-Wells had been expected, as the Council has long used a system of rotation to chose the Mayor and Vice Mayor, with the oldest (in terms of service, not age) Council members who have not yet served as Mayor or Vice Mayor being the next ones eligible for the positions.

Cooper, who has served as Vice Mayor for the last year, was the natural choice for Mayor, while Sahli-Wells, who, along with Jim Clarke, was elected to the Council a year ago, was the favorite for being appointed Vice Mayor.

Both Cooper and Sahli-Wells were nominated by Clarke.

Outgoing Mayor Andrew Weissman addressed the Council and audience before the “election.”

“It’s been a good year for the community. Approving the local sales tax took a monumental step toward realizing the quality of life that we enjoy here in Culver City. The revenues……..allow us to stop the deficit drain and maintain the exceptional levels of service we have here.

“I appreciate the colleagues I have had the pleasure to work with. Thanks to city staff for all the assistance you’ve shown me.”

Then he reminded everyone: “I still have three more years [serving on the Council]. You’re not exactly done with me!”

That was an example of what Sahli-Wells, in her brief tribute to Weissman, called his “wry humor.” She said she appreciated both that and his “organization skills.”

The other Council members also praised Weissman for his knowledge and even-handedness. Clarke drew laughs by saying that Weissman was a “father-figure” to him.

New Mayor Cooper thanked everyone who “got involved” in Culver City and proceeded to execute his first duty as Mayor by calling the votes for the mayor and vice mayor to chair the other city boards that the Council constitutes (Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency; Housing Authority).

Prior to the election, however, the gripes and comments of many of the speakers suggested that the next year will be a year of tough decisions for the Council.

A number of speakers from an anti-smoking group spoke of the need to ban smoking in apartment complexes in Culver City. Cooper suggested that the Sustainability subcommittee discuss agendizing this issue.

Members of the Coalition Against Gun Violence had a bone to pick with the Council because on April 8, they had voted to support only one of four proposed policy principles on gun violence as outlined in the United State’s Conference of Mayors’ Open Letter of January 28, 2013 to the President and the United States Congress:

enactment of state and federal legislation to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, strengthening the national background check system, and strengthening the penalties for straw purchases of guns.

The Coalition members did not see this support as sufficient and decried the Council’s handling of the issue and not voting for the three other principles.

Clarke explained the Council’s methodology of handling Council opinions on state and national issues. Sahli-Wells thought the issue was worth revisiting and made a motion to re-agendize gun violence but no one seconded the motion.

Doug Shields, a visitor from Pittsburgh, spoke eloquently about the need to ban hydraulic fracturing and noted that Pittsburgh has done so, because the people, not the legislators, wanted it that way and got it done.

In other actions, the Council read proclamations celebrating Earth Day and saluting the Retired Senior Volunteers Program (RSVP).


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