May 7, 2014

Benny Lee Elected First Asian American Vice Mayor of San Leandro

Benny Lee
Councilmember Benny Lee
San Leandro District 4 Councilmember Benny Lee was elected San Leandro's first Asian American Vice Mayor at the May 5, 2014, meeting of the San Leandro City Council.

According to the City Charter, "In the absence of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor shall possess and perform the powers and duties of the Mayor." This typically means representing the City and chairing meetings of the City Council in the Mayor's absence.

When it came time for the agenda item on selection of a Vice Mayor, Councilmember Souza stated, "I'd like to say that I've been disappointed these past three years that there has been no support or recognition for anyone to make a motion and support a Vice Mayor that recognizes and embraces the diversity of this council. I'd like to nominate Benny Lee for Vice Mayor...and this will recognize and embrace the diversity of our council and the city. And I'm going to quote the Mayor from just a couple of minutes ago and say, 'Think this through carefully.'"

After Mayor Stephen Cassidy noted that a current councilmember (Reed, an African American) had served as Vice Mayor and called Souza's reason a false argument, Lee was elected as Vice Mayor by a vote of 4 to 3, with Councilmembers Michael Gregory, Lee, Ursula Reed, and Souza voting for Lee.

In the past 10 years, five of the Vice Mayors have been African American.

In 2012 and 2013, Souza tried to be elected Vice Mayor, but failed on 4-3 votes each time.

During the 2013 Vice Mayor selection, Souza said, "I am very disappointed that I did not have the support of my colleagues for the opportunity to serve as Vice Mayor, but I am also okay with it for I know that in order to win that appointment I would have had to compromise my values and integrity got me elected and some would say that is just politics" when she was not elected as Vice Mayor by her colleagues.

Lee will serve as Vice Mayor until June 2015.

Below is a recent history of San Leandro's Vice Mayors:

  • 2004 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)
  • 2005 - Orval "OB" Badger (District 1)
  • 2006 - Surlene Grant (District 2)
  • 2007 - Surlene Grant (District 2)
  • 2008 - Bill Stephens (District 5)
  • 2009 - Joyce Starosciak (District 4)
  • 2010 - Ursula Reed (District 2)
  • 2011 - Michael Gregory (District 1)
  • 2012 - Michael Gregory (District 1)
  • 2013 - Jim Prola (District 6)
  • 2014 - Benny Lee (District 4)
Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at May 7, 2014 12:35 AM | TrackBack
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