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Who is Auburn’s next mayor?

Candidates with highest votes usually awarded position
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The most likely candidates for Auburn mayor are already lined up. Tuesday residents voted incumbents Mike Holmes, Bridget Powers and Kevin Hanley back into their City Council seats. Holmes received 2,670 votes, Powers received 2,423 votes and Hanley received 2,401. Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby received the most votes in the 2008 election that secured him and Councilman Keith Nesbitt seats on the council. Kirby is scheduled to begin his term as mayor Dec. 6. The candidate who receives the most votes has traditionally served as mayor first, Kirby said. This means that after Powers finishes her current term as mayor, Kirby and then Nesbitt will each fill the position for a year in 2011 and 2012. Because Holmes received the most votes in this election, he should serve another term as mayor in 2013 after Nesbitt. Powers would serve again in 2014 after Holmes. Kirby said if something happens and a mayor can no longer serve, the other council members could choose any member to replace that person, but the decision would still usually follow the vote. The Auburn mayor’s main unique responsibility is to give committee assignments to fellow councilmen and women. The mayor also runs City Council meetings, but can be overrided by other members if necessary. The mayor’s decisions don’t hold any more weight than other council representatives, Kirby said. “We are all equal in terms of a vote,” he said. Powers, who has served almost a full term as mayor, said there is another part of the position that she has really enjoyed. “The most rewarding part was people in the community call you and ask you to be involved in their (special occasions),” Powers said. “Just to be a part of things like that, and have a role in it … that was the most rewarding.” Powers said she has also enjoyed giving proclamations and accommodations and speaking with members of the media about various issues. Holmes, who has served as mayor twice in the past, said he thinks the position requires a greater amount of time. “You are expected to represent the city at a number of different events,” Holmes said. “It takes a good deal of time.” Kirby said he has several goals he would like to start working on during his term as mayor, including making Auburn’s sewer system regional. “It’s really the direction we need to go in,” Kirby said. “If it’s feasible, and we can find the financing, that is something I’m in favor of.” Kirby said he also thinks Auburn needs to work on annexing North Auburn and the Bowman area into the city limits. “Auburn needs to extend its boundaries to include the urbanized areas adjacent to us in the next five or 10 years,” he said. “It’s not going to happen overnight.” Kirby said he thinks the citizens who live in those areas need to have more elected officials who are accountable for their needs, so the representation of five council members would be ideal. “All of the decision makers would be directly accountable to them,” he said. Because Hanley received 22 fewer votes than Powers, he could be passed over for mayor unless the council decides differently in the future, Kirby said. “Right now he is not in line to be mayor based on the votes,” Kirby said. “The council obviously has to choose the mayor, but I think traditionally this is the way they do it.” Hanley said a city ordinance does allow the council to choose whoever it wants to be mayor and vice mayor if it doesn’t want to stick with the tradition. Steve Galyardt, who served as Hanley’s campaign adviser, said although Hanley doesn’t currently have the opportunity to be mayor, the important thing is that he was re-elected. “There is a certain amount of discussion that he did not come in first or second,” Galyardt said. “Kevin came in the top three, and he won, and I’m ecstatic about that. I don’t know what we could have done any better.” Cheryl Maki, who also supported Hanley, said it’s unfortunate that the number of votes Hanley received don’t allow him to hold the position. “I know it doesn’t matter to Kevin,” Maki said. “He just wants to serve Auburn. But his supporters believe he would make an excellent mayor.” Hanley said even if he doesn’t serve as mayor, he is happy to be on the council. “Whether or not I’m given the opportunity to serve as mayor during what will be a total of 12 years of service on the City Council is up to the other four members of the council,” Hanley said “I'm honored to be re-elected to the Auburn City Council, where my energy will be focused exclusively on making our program to lower the risk of a catastrophic fire the best in California, improving the health of our local economy, and making our city government the best run government and most efficient in our region.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com