Jan Marx will be sworn in today as San Luis Obispo’s new mayor — and we believe it’s high time to stop haggling over the circumstances surrounding her election.
Even before her close win over opponent Paul Brown, Marx was faulted for not resigning her council seat when she announced her decision to run for mayor. Had she done so, voters could have chosen her replacement on the council in the November election.
Instead, we now have a situation where the council will almost certainly appoint Marx’s replacement to avoid the considerable cost of a special election. That, according to Marx’s critics, amounts to disenfranchisement.
The way we see it, though, Marx was in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation.
Had she resigned her council seat and gone on to lose the mayoral election, supporters who elected her to the council two years ago no doubt would have felt disenfranchised.
It’s also worth noting that, under the city charter, the council would have appointed an interim member to serve out the months between Marx’s resignation and the November election.
In other words, an appointment of some duration would have been nearly inevitable.
The fact is, Marx is not the first politician to have run for a higher office while retaining her old seat. Presidential candidates on down have done the same — and no doubt will continue to do so.
Some voters may see that as a breach of an unwritten code of ethics. That’s their right.
Clearly, though, San Luis Obispo voters did not see Marx’s decision to retain her council seat as a fatal flaw, or they would not have elected her mayor — and she would not be taking the oath of office today.
In the months ahead, Mayor Marx will face some tough challenges.
We’ll keep a close watch on how the city fares under her leadership, and as we have done with other office holders in the past, we will not hesitate to raise concerns about her performance.
For today, though, we offer Marx our congratulations and support — and we invite the citizens of San Luis Obispo to join us.