Council member Kelly Fergusson has resigned as the mayor of Menlo Park as a consequence of Brown Act violations she committed by meeting one-on-one with at least three council members to discuss her desire for the position.
In a statement issued today, Ms. Fergusson wrote, "My resignation is a symbol of the respect I have for the Brown Act, and of my intention to be completely mindful and aware in the future and to act in full compliance with the law as I always have in the past."
She said she will not be a candidate for mayor during the re-vote.
As The Almanac first reported, the councilwoman held private discussions with Rich Cline, Peter Ohtaki, and outgoing councilman Heyward Robinson earlier this week. All three said they were unaware she had spoken with anyone else.
City Attorney Bill McClure said Ms. Fergusson may also have asked an intermediary to lobby Kirsten Keith, who was chosen as vice mayor.
At his request the council postponed a special meeting on Friday afternoon called 24 hours earlier to re-vote on mayor and vice mayor, and will instead discuss the matter on Dec. 14 at its regular Tuesday night meeting.
The postponement came in the wake of outrage from local government watchdogs over the timing of the meeting. According to the city clerk's office, four of the five council members requested the Friday meeting.
Open government advocate Peter Carpenter urged the city attorney to properly notice the meeting, after realizing the notice didn't indicate a public comment period at the meeting.
The advocate also sent a letter earlier this week asking Mr. McClure to correct the Brown Act violations.
"Specific reference to the public's right to comment on the item was missing from the notice as it turns out—I had thought there was boilerplate language regarding public comment at the bottom of the notice—but it turns out that language was not there," said Mr. McClure when asked about the reason for the postponement, describing it as a "technical defect" in the city's announcement of the special meeting.
Ms. Fergusson, who has served on the dais for six years and once before as mayor, said she intends to remain on the council.
She was elected mayor again only four days ago by the council in a 3-2 vote, with Andy Cohen and Peter Ohtaki dissenting.
Both the position of vice mayor and mayor pro tem will be filled by Ms. Keith until the re-vote, according to the city attorney.
The Almanac will update this story as more information becomes available.
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