Last night, the City of Westlake Village held its annual reorganization of the City Council, and election and swearing in of the new Mayor for Westlake Village. Robert Slavin nominated Philippa Klessig as Mayor, and she was elected by the City Council. Ned Davis nominated Robert Slavin as Mayor Pro Tem and he was elected. The city council elected both positions unanimously.

Both have served in these position in the past. Judge Larry Mira swore in the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Judge Lawrence J. Mira has honored the city in this role for the past 25+ years.

How does Westlake Village select its mayor?

One of the more common misconceptions is that the people elect the mayor. In many small towns, including Westlake Village, the residents elect the city council members, and the city council members annually elect the mayor. The mayor position will be voted on tonight at city council meeting.

The city council has 5 members. It’s specifically an odd number so that when there’s a full council vote, there’s a tie breaker.

Of those 5 members, one member is the Mayor Pro Tem. Throughout 2012, Sue McSweeney was the mayor. Another member, is the Mayor. Throughout 2012, Philippa Klessig was the Mayor Pro Tem. The role of the mayor is mostly symbolic, but it’s definitely an honor. Mayor Pro Tem stands in for the mayor when he/she is not available. There are two things the mayor is responsible for that have an impact beyond symbolism. First, they choose which council members serve on each committee. Second, they run the meetings and have influence over the agenda.

The Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem positions are selected by the city council. Each is a separate vote that requires a simple majority. It’s a bit unclear as to what happens if a majority is not obtained, but the most likely outcome is that those in the current roles would continue beyond their normal one-year terms until the city council reached a majority decision.

Most of the time, the council follows a variety of conventions as to who gets selected as Pro Tem and Mayor. For example, typically, the pro-tem becomes the next mayor, but that has not always been the case. The conventions for selection ordering are loosely based on number of votes at general election time.

In the end, the conventions are just a set of guidelines … the vote is the real process, and the council members are able to vote in any way they want, including for themselves.