There were no fireworks, and it didn't take all night as some people thought might happen. But the City Council of Rancho Santa Margarita did step out of line by not doing things the way it has done them in the past.
It did not vote for a mayor and then a mayor pro tempore, but instead selected a team.
Councilmembers spoke of acting in a united front, and by a 4-1 vote, Tony Beall was selected the city's mayor for the second year in a row with Steve Baric filling the vacant role of mayor pro tem.
The one dissenting vote was Jesse Petrilla, who had asked that instead of voting on Carol Gamble's "team selection" proposal that the mayor and mayor pro tem be selected separately.
Petrilla also provided the most surprising moment of the process following Jerry Holloway's nomination of Beall and Gamble's nomination of a Beall/Baric ticket. Petrilla nominated Gamble for mayor. Sitting to Petrilla's right, Gamble's eyes widened in shock as she turned her head quickly toward the youngest councilman in the city's history.
Gamble admitted she was flattered by Petrilla's gesture, but withdrew her name because she is caring for her 89-year-old mother, who for more than a month after contracting pneumonia was "unintentionally medicated" with an anti-psychotic drug not intended for use by the elderly. "I don't know what I'm doing next Friday, let alone in 2012," Gamble said.
Gamble's rationale for nominating Beall and Baric as a team appeared solid, noting Beall's leadership over the past year and the fact that Baric is the vice president of the California Republican Party who will likely have extraordinary demands on his time in a presidential election year.
Both Holloway and Gamble indicated their preference for Beall as mayor was to provide some consistency as the city breaks in a new city manager with the retirement of Steve Hayman, who was honored at the beginning of the meeting.
"There's going to be a learning curve, and the relationship between the city manager and the mayor is a close one," Holloway said.
Beall had opened the discussion by nominating Baric to succeed him.
"We’ve had a heck of a year, and I’m proud of where this city council sits as of today; we’ve come a long way and achieved a lot," Beall said after his selection. "The most important thing to me tonight is when we finish this vote and move on after tonight, that we move on as a united, positive, cohesive and very functional city council that always makes every decision based on the best interests of this city."