WALLA WALLA — City Council member-elect Allen Pomraning has made his intentions clear to his colleagues that he wants to be mayor pro-tem.
“If elected mayor pro-tem, I will commit to attending the mayor’s meetings including the biweekly meeting held to set the Council’s meeting agenda,” Pomraning wrote in an email to the Council.
On Wednesday he and Council member-elect Richard Morgan will be sworn in to their first terms, and current Councilman and Mayor Jim Barrow will be sworn in to a new Council term. That ceremony will most likely be followed by the selection of a new mayor and mayor pro-tem.
Walla Walla is among more than 50 Washington communities in which city councils choose mayors and mayors pro tem, or acting mayors during mayoral absences.
Associaton of Washington Cities general counsel Sheila Gall noted there are about 53 cities in Washington where councils nominate and elect mayors. The vast majority — 227 municipalities — elect their mayors by popular citizen vote, Gall said.
“They directly elect a mayor and he is also the administrative head of the city,” Gall said, noting that mayors in such councils often have power to hire personnel and operate the city. The citizen-elected mayors also can have veto power over proposed ordinances.
Walla Walla’s mayor, however, falls under the auspices of a council-manager form of government, where a council hires a city manager to run all facets of operating a city. The council-elected mayor has some delegated authorities, including presiding over City Council meetings.
“There are some prerogatives from running the meeting,” Barrow said, noting that Walla Walla mayors generally wait for all other Council members to speak on issues and then get the last word before voting. “And you do get a word in ahead of others from time to time.”
But, he added, “When the time comes to vote, you vote like anybody else on Council.”
Before becoming mayor two years ago, Barrow was nominated by a Council peer
“Ordinarily there is no overt campaigning,” Barrow said, adding that he never campaigned but also saw nothing wrong with it. “If you wish to be mayor you might let that be known informally.”
Barrow said Council members also have the option to nominate themselves for mayor or mayor pro-tem.
“I would expect, based on the email, that someone will approach me and ask to nominate me,” Pomraning said in an telephone interview Friday. “If they don’t, then I will approach different Council members and ask them to nominate me. I am pretty sure out of that process someone will nominate me.
“But if not, I am not embarrassed to nominate myself if that is legal.”
Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.