Is League of Cities President the New SI Cover Jinx?

Is serving as the League of California Cities President a re-election curse? Palos Verdes Councilmember Jim Goodhart came up short in his re-election bid last week, placing third of three candidates vying for two seats. Goodhart served three terms on the council, going back to 2005, and was set to get the President’s gavel at the League’s Annual Conference this Fall.

Goodhart becomes the fourth in the last decade to lose their seat while serving on the state League Board. Tony Ferrara of Arroyo Grande was the last, dropping his re-elect in 2014, while Robin Lowe of Hemet lost re-election in November 2010 -- just months after handing off the gavel from her term as President. Pinole’s Maria Alegria was actually recalled in 2008 while Immediate Past President.

Ferrara came to the League’s Executive Board after several terms as President of the League’s Mayor’s and Councilmembers Department. Why several terms? You guessed it, the Presidents kept losing re-election, rotating Ferrara back into the role.

So what’s going on here? Well a few folks have likened it to the fabled Sports Illustrated Cover jinx -- or for you millennials, the Madden Cover jinx.

There’s also the potentially more troubling conclusion that service on the State League Board, a time consuming enterprise that takes significant commitment to work in the State Capitol and around California's nearly 500 cities, is seen unfavorably by local voters.

This is of course possible, if local voters are indeed aware there is a thing called the League of Cities and that their councilmember is a leader of it. We’re not sure the data supports this either, given dozens of electeds serve on the State Board and its regional divisions at any given time, and that COGs, MPOs and other regional bodies appoint local electeds to leadership positions.

To ascend to League President requires years of service on all of these, meaning any contender has been on city council for at least a decade, and sometimes two. So any given election (especially the low turnout variety we saw in Palos Verdes last week) carries potential for an upset.

And hey, it’s not like League President is always the end of the road. Ask Pete Wilson.


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