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Five Minutes with Mayor Micheál O'Leary

The councilman is taking his turn in the annual rotation as mayor of Culver City.

The mayor of Culver City is not directly elected to that position. Instead, the council members each take a turn for a year to serve as mayor. is taking his turn this year, and shared with Patch a few thoughts about the job and what he'd like to accomplish.

Culver City Patch: Now that you’re mayor, what’s going to change as far as how you handle things on the council?

Mayor Micheál O'Leary: The mayor’s position, as you know, is more of a ceremonial position, like running the meetings. I was already running the meetings, every other meeting, as chair of the redevelopment agency for two years. So that’s not really going to be that much different.

The key is when there’s contentious items–and hopefully there won’t be too many. When there are, the key—to me—in the mayor’s position, is how to maneuver the discussion, so that it’s played fairly. I mean, I’ve seen it in the past where—in the mayor’s position—they know which colleagues are in favor of an item and give them the microphone first. And that, to me, doesn’t help the democratic process. So I’m just going to try to be fair and be sure that I’m not guiding the conversation for my own benefit, but for the benefit of the city.

Patch: That is a tough one. I know the feeling, like when I’m trying to write an objective story when I have strong views on an issue.

O'Leary: Right. I have things in my head that I would like to see done differently. For example, when a discussion has reached its end, in my opinion, I’ll see that three of the members have made their mind up and two want to prolong the discussion; I’m seeing that there doesn’t seem to be movement. And even if I’m on the other side of the discussion, I will have to acknowledge whoever the person is with me and say, “Well, we’ve tried to move this item, and it’s obviously not going to move, so I’m going to move to close the comments and take a motion.”

That’s been in my mind on how to do it, but I haven’t been in that situation yet where there has been a contentious item. We’ll all know it when it happens. We’ll see how I handle the pressure. The room will be full. And people will have to understand that it will be a judgment call. And people may think, oh, he gave in or he didn’t fight hard enough. But rather than sit there 'til three in the morning, I’ll be making what I hope are competent decisions.

Patch: Do you have any goals for your year as mayor?

O'Leary: I would love to be in the mayor’s position at the opening of the Expo Line. I think Culver City—Scott Malsin included—has put a lot of work into moving it along. The current plan is to open to Crenshaw, and then later open to Culver City. As those completion dates are getting closer, the Culver City station is moving along at a great speed. And we believe they won’t have to open to Crenshaw. It will just open to Culver City. So that would be a neat achievement, having been on the board as an alternate for three years now. And it will be nice, my final year, going into re-election, to open the train to Culver City.

Patch: Any feelings about your turn to be mayor? Is it scary or exciting?

O'Leary: There’s seems to be more pressure from other people than from the launch of the position, itself. The “Oh my God, you’re going to be mayor.” And people are saying “oh, you’re mayor.” It’s more in people’s heads than the position, itself. It wasn’t earned. I’m sure all of my colleagues believe that the rotation is an earned rotation. But if I had my way, I believe the position of mayor should be elected.

I think the top vote getter of the one to three seats that are available should be mayor. They were elected with the most number of votes, and that means the most number of people like that particular person and to me a consistency for the city would be nice, also. Just if I had my way, I would have kept it with  [Weissman] when we were elected. I mean, he has the most institutional knowledge of the city and he’s just one of those mayor-type guys.

I’ll try and emulate him.

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