A group of Lodi citizens looking to reform how the city’s mayor is chosen has started mobilizing volunteers in an effort to collect enough signatures to put an initiative before the voters this fall.
If the Fair Lodi Mayoral Selection campaign is successful, the city council would no longer vote for mayor. Instead, the position would rotate amongst Lodi’s five districts that were created when the city switched to district elections in 2018.
The push to overhaul the mayoral process comes just months after Lodi City Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce was passed over for mayor for the second time during her tenure on the council. She has served as mayor before and recently served as president of the League of California Cities, leaving her supporters angered and wondering why she was skipped over once again.
Although the council does vote for mayor on an annual basis, the position has traditionally rotated and the vote has been more of a formality. However, on rare occasions the council has broken tradition and skipped over the next in line to serve.
Spencer Rhoads, who made an unsuccessful run for city council last November, recently filed a petition with the city over the mayoral selection process.
According to the initiative drafted by Rhoads, he suggests that council members serve as mayor in numerical order of their district.
“In order to get this initiative on the ballot we would need to collect about 3,200 signatures (10 percent of registered voters in Lodi),” Rhoads said.
Supporters of the initiative are holding meetings to discuss canvassing strategies. Volunteers are scheduled to meet this Saturday, 3 p.m., at the Hill House located on 826 S. Church St.
“Our strategy is to scour the entire city, through old-school campaigning and collect the signatures of registered voters,” Rhoads said. “I will personally be at the Lodi Farmers Market and Lodi Street Faire collecting signatures, and because of the efficiency of technology, I have the index of voters on my phone.”
Rhoads hopes to get more volunteers involved in an effort to collect 4,000 signatures.
“4,000 signatures gives us a cushion for error,” Rhoads said.
If enough valid signatures are collected, a special election would be held in November and the initiative would pass with a simple majority of the vote.
Since this would be considered a special election, the city would be responsible for paying the full costs associated with it. The estimated cost of a special election can range from $260,000 to $360,000 in a non-election year, according to San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Melinda Dubroff.
The proposed deadline for signatures is June 4.
Citizens interested in volunteering are encouraged to email LodiFairMayor@gmail .com.