Because of questions over the election process that led to the appointment of Councilmember Steve Knoblock as mayor pro tem for 2023, the San Clemente City Council will conduct a new election at its next meeting on Feb. 7.
Councilmember Victor Cabral motioned for the new election early on in the discussion, which Councilmember Gene James seconded, thus placing the item on the next meeting agenda. Both the mayor and mayor pro tem positions can be reelected at any time, according to Council Policy.
The action comes as councilmembers looked to address City Attorney Scott Smith’s response to a point-of-order, or appeal, that James had raised regarding the council leadership election they held on Dec. 6.
After that meeting, James filed the appeal, stating that the election in which Knoblock was appointed followed the procedure of using motions and substitute motions instead of a round of voting wherein all nominees are considered until one receives a majority vote, according to Smith’s letter.
At issue is whether a vote that had occurred should have resulted in Cabral earning the position of mayor pro tem. During the election, Cabral received two “yes” votes from himself and James, while Mayor Chris Duncan voted “no,” and Knoblock and Councilmember Mark Enmeier abstained.
Because the motion procedure was used, James said he felt Cabral should have been named mayor pro tem.
In his response, Smith said the appeal was correct in the aspect that the 2-1-2 vote was sufficient, as a majority of the councilmembers voting on the motion were in support.
The city attorney also referred to Robert’s Rules of Order, in which councilmembers are allowed to vote “no” or abstain on certain candidates while voting in favor of others. That stipulation could not be accounted for within the simple motion procedure, which Smith used to disqualify James’ argument.
Smith added that if the council did vote by motions, then it would have voted on the substitute motion in favor of Knoblock before voting on Cabral, and Knoblock would’ve been elected regardless.
Instead, the council conducted the process according to Rosenberg’s Rules of Order, allowing for a round of voting in which all nominees had the opportunity to be considered.
“The Council correctly voted on all nominees on December 6th, voting and tallying votes until the second nominee (Knoblock) received votes from a majority of the Council,” Smith wrote.
Knoblock motioned for the council to deny James’ appeal and uphold the point-of-order decision, which was seconded by Enmeier and approved in a 3-2 vote. Cabral and James voted in opposition.