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Citrus Heights has a new mayor and vice mayor. Is change coming?

File photo, Citrus Heights council members Bret Daniels and Tim Schaefer. // CH Sentinel

Sentinel staff report–
Council members Bret Daniels and Tim Schaefer both have new titles on the Citrus Heights City Council, following a vote Thursday night.

Schaefer will serve a one-year term as the city’s mayor and Daniels will serve a one-year term as vice mayor. The office of mayor was most recently held by Councilwoman Porsche Middleton, with Schaefer transitioning from his recent term as vice mayor.

Council members annually select a mayor and vice mayor from among their ranks. The titles are largely symbolic, with the mayor serving as chair of meetings.

The motion to appoint Schaefer as mayor was made by Daniels, and the motion to appoint Daniels was made by newly sworn-in councilwoman Jayna Karpinski-Costa for District 4.

The Dec. 8 council meeting also saw the swearing in of newly elected Councilwoman MariJane Lopez-Taff, who narrowly won election for the District 2 seat. Middleton was also sworn in for another four-year term on the council, following her narrow win in District 5.

The two newly elected council members fill the seats previously taken by long-tenured council members Steve Miller and Jeannie Bruins, who retired from the council this year and officially stepped down during the Dec. 8 meeting.

Changes to come?
The annual nomination and ratification of council members to serve one-year terms as mayor and vice mayor has historically been a routine formality, but the process became contentious two years ago when Schaefer and Daniels both voted “no” on the nomination of Miller and Middleton to serve as mayor and vice mayor.

Schaefer and Daniels also joined forces in other split votes at City Hall, as a minority on the five-member council. The two were part of the minority in a 3-2 vote last year to approve a contract with Chris Boyd to serve as interim city manager last year, while the city searched for a new manager. Daniels said at the time “I don’t think there is any secret that there is a fracture in the council regarding the confidence in Mr. Boyd.”

From 2021: ‘Fractured’ council votes 3-2 for interim Citrus Heights city manager

The two were also vocal opponents of the Measure M sales tax proposal in 2020, as was Karpinski-Costa.

Daniels has had a rocky relationship with some of his colleagues on the council, but his appointment on Thursday indicates the new makeup of the City Council may result in a change of direction.

As another indication of potential changes to come, Daniels at the conclusion of Thursday’s meeting proposed placing a future item on the agenda to restore a rule requiring a lower threshold of support needed to place items on the agenda. Two years ago, the council had voted in a controversial 3-2 vote to increase the requirement from two council members to three, in order to place an item on the agenda.

The proposal to restore the lower threshold of support was supported by both newly seated council members, Lopez-Taff and Karpinski-Costa. The item is expected to be placed on the council’s next agenda for discussion, and if passed, would allow greater ability for a minority of council members to place items on the agenda for discussion and a vote.

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