Myrtle Cole named San Diego City Council president

Mayor, City Attorney, 3 council members sworn in
Posted at 4:38 AM, Dec 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-12 19:50:49-05

SAN DIEGO - Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Attorney Mara Elliott and three new City Council members were sworn in Monday in a ceremony at the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego.

Faulconer completed the term of scandal-plagued Bob Filner, who resigned in 2013, so is embarking on his first full four-year term. He was reelected in the June primary.

"It is truly an honor and privilege to serve as mayor of this great city, and I am grateful and humbled that San Diegans have placed their trust and confidence in me," Faulconer said. "It is with a great sense of optimism and responsibility that, together, we begin this new chapter."

He touted progress made since taking office in March 2014, and said he looked forward to working with the new officeholders.

Elliott, who defeated Deputy District Attorney Robert Hickey in the general election last month, helped create a culture that made the City Attorney's Office successful, according to her predecessor, Jan Goldsmith.

"She will improve up (the culture) with her own style and own priorities," Goldsmith said. "She is tough, tested and ready to lead."

Elliott told the audience that she would be an independent city attorney accountable to the people, and fight for the interests of the city and residents. Her office defends the city against lawsuits, ensures that municipal policies are implemented legally and prosecutes misdemeanor crimes.

"San Diegans need to know that this office will protect them, and criminals need to know that we will prosecute them," Elliott said. "There's no better way to measure our success."

Also sworn in were new City Council members Barbara Bry, who represents Carmel Valley, La Jolla and University City; Georgette Gomez, who represents the College Area, City Heights and Southcrest; and Chris Ward, whose district covers downtown, Hillcrest and North Park.

Mark Kersey, who represents Rancho Bernardo and Scripps Ranch; and Scott Sherman, whose district covers territory in Linda Vista, Mission Valley and San Carlos, took the oath of office for their second terms after being reelected in June.

Later, Councilwoman Myrtle Cole was named council president on a 6-3 vote.

"What I plan to do is work with every single individual on this move their district forward and to move this city forward -- that's all I want to do," said Cole, who represents neighborhoods in Southeast San Diego.

Many of the 30 or so public speakers, including members of organized labor and environmental groups, backed Councilman David Alvarez and pushed for a more aggressive pursuit of progressive policies. Cole did receive some union support, however.

Alvarez, Gomez and Ward cast the dissenting votes.

The council president position comes with considerable power. Cole, who succeeds Sherri Lightner in the post, will shape the debate over civic issues, set the panel's agenda, run the council meetings, determine committee assignments and appear often with the mayor in a ceremonial role.