Mayor Cassidy in 2010. How many of his colleagues
would like to take a shot at the dunking booth today?

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Did San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy make light of his apparent unpopularity among council colleagues this week?

Near the end of Monday’s night’s meeting regarding possible changes to how the council selects its vice mayor, Cassidy said the current process can create disharmony and then while speaking to the City Council, joked, “I’m so happy to be mayor where you don’t get to vote whether I get to stay mayor or not.” A hearty laugh followed, before he added, “Just the people get to make that decision.” (Watch the video clip below.)

The quip, however, is rooted in some truth. Over the past few years, Cassidy has clashed on various occasions with Councilmember Ursula Reed, alienated Councilmember Benny Lee over the recent Chinese flag over City Hall fiasco and traded barbs with Councilmember Diana Souza, who has voiced displeasure with the mayor on various occasions during meetings. Even the normally jovial Councilmember Jim Prola has had private disputes with Cassidy. Although Prola told EBC last month he will not challenge Cassidy for mayor next year, he added this caveat, “Unless he makes me mad.”

On Monday, Cassidy said, while he can’t be vice mayor, himself, the procedure of selecting a vice mayor–a purely ceremonial title–puts him in an awkward position. Yet, he desires a “harmonious relationship” with all members of the council.

Currently, the City Council votes each May to name a new vice mayor. There are no specific rules for its selection, but the council has typical rotated the title among themselves. However, this year Souza expressed disappointment by being passed over for the job in favor of Prola. Souza, who is heading into her eighth and final year as a member of the council has never held the title. She pushed for reexamining the process, which was discussed at Monday’s meeting.

Among city councils in Alameda County, San Leandro’s policy for picking its number two is one of the least formal. Some cities, like Fremont, rotate the position among its four members. Others, in some combination of rotation and tenure, bestow the honor on the member who garnered the most votes during its most recent election. In Hayward, its version of vice mayor, the mayor pro tem, is the most senior member of the group who has yet to hold the office and whom has served for at least two years.