The city of San Mateo is in trouble. Newly elected council members Lisa Diaz Nash and Robert Newsom decided to turn the December 5 City Council meeting, the first since the 2022 elections, into an embarrassing spectacle.
Despite the fact that Nash and Newsom promised in the campaign to work for the unity of the city, they began their activities grotesquely blocking the succession of the councilwoman Amourence Lee, who was supposed to be the new mayor of this city, following the mayoral rotation system.
Councilwoman Lee would have been the first Asian Jewish woman to serve as mayor. In addition to representing a broad section of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, Lee was elected by the entire city and not just her ward, the 2nd. As such, she represents a diverse and large population, particularly low-income people, as Lee has been a voice for affordable housing and against hate crimes.
The San Mateo City Council currently consists of Amourence Lee, Adam Loraine, Lisa Diaz Nash, and Robert Newsom. The fifth seat was held by Diane Papan but is now empty after she was elected to represent San Mateo in the California Assembly.
During the protracted City Council meeting, Nash and Newsom said they were halting mayoral rotation pending a fifth alderman, which is absurd following the precedent of 128 years of mayoral rotation.
In politics it is good to debate, it is very valid and even healthy to differ, but in this case, it is obvious that Nash and Newsom make a mistake and bring a charge against Lee, which creates chaos, exclusion and community division. This could translate into ethnic clashes and even the appearance of new hate messages in the city of San Mateo.
Nash and Newsom must reconsider, put aside their pride and correct their mistake.
Manuel Ortiz Escámez is a Mexican journalist and documentary photographer based in Redwood City. He is co-founder and director of Peninsula 360 Press. He has more than 20 years documenting international migration and social justice issues in various countries, including Mexico, the United States, Colombia, El Salvador, Bolivia, Brazil, Honduras, France, Japan, and Ukraine. He has a degree in Sociology and a master's degree in documentary film from UNAM.
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