Bob Kellar supporters packed Santa Clarita’s City Council chambers Tuesday, giving the three-term councilman multiple standing ovations as he was sworn in to a fourth term.
The crowd was almost as friendly to TimBen Boydston, who unseated Mayor Laurie Ender in the April 10 election and took his seat next to Kellar.
For Boydston it was actually the second swearing-in ceremony; he served on the council in 2007 and 2008 as an appointee when Cameron Smyth was elected to the Assembly.
After Boydston was seated, Kellar nominated Mayor Pro-tem Frank Ferry to fill out Ender’s mayoral term, but not without some controversy.
Reminiscent of the old Ferry-Boydston feud that dates to Boydston’s first time on the council, Boydston challenged Ferry to “make a commitment to the citizens of Santa Clarita that there wouldn’t be any disrespect” from the council dais. Ferry, whose periodic verbal exchanges with residents have drawn fire, ignored Boydston’s remark, and the council named Ferry mayor on a 4-1 vote, Boydston dissenting.
Later in the brief organizational meeting, Ferry said he has spoken with Boydston twice since the election and plans to break bread soon to determine how the two “can have a better relationship over the next two to four years.”
Boydston is just starting a four-year term, but Ferry faces the electorate again in two years.
Following his selection as mayor, Ferry nominated Kellar to serve in the No. 2 position as mayor pro-tem, akin to vice mayor. Kellar had been passed over for the position in December when Ferry nominated himself for the No. 2 spot.
Kellar garnered the most votes in the April 10 election – more, in fact, than any candidate in Santa Clarita’s 25-year history except for its “birth” year of 1987, when the council election coincided with a general election and drew far more voters to the polls.
The council voted 5-0 Tuesday to place Kellar next in line to become mayor. While the ascension from pro-tem to mayor isn’t automatic, it is traditionally so.
In his acceptance speech, Boydston referenced Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and said, “I believe that a government of the people is a government that listens to its people, and this I pledge to do.”
Boydston had made a campaign issue of the council “listening to its citizens” in the wake of controversial decisions including Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital’s expansion plans and the city takeover of the local libraries.
“The culture of this city must change,” Boydston said.
He called Kellar “an example of what it means to listen and serve.”
Kellar, who has landed on the short end of several 4-1 decisions in recent years, was gracious to city staff members and to outgoing Councilwoman Laurie Ender, who did not attend the meeting. In a more subdued acceptance speech, he acknowledged what he termed “an era of listening and respect for one another.”
“This is the beginning of a new and productive period for Santa Clarita and all of its citizens,” Kellar said, adding, “I love this city and I love everybody in it.”
The new City Council gave a hint Tuesday to two possible policy changes in the future.
Boydston asked that the council consider changing the month in which new mayors are appointed from December to April, after the biennial election.
The council selects among itself for the largely ceremonial role of mayor each December because the city incorporated and held its first meeting in December 1987, and it has never moved the annual starting date.
Councilwoman Marsha McLean protested, saying, “I think it’s working fine the way it is,” but she said she didn’t object to discussing it at a future meeting.
Ferry asked that the council consider adding a public comment period to the beginning of each council meeting. Boydston and others had criticized the council’s decision a few years ago to move all public comment to the end of meetings.
Ferry’s plan would allow for 30 minutes of public comment at the beginning and additional public comment at the end. Ferry said he based the recommendation on comments he heard during the recent council campaign.
Both policy items will be debated at a future council meeting.