Newly-minted Mayor Cameron Hamilton, Vice-Mayor Brian Ward and Councilman Greg Shelton voted to reorganize the council and make Hamilton mayor during the meeting in a 3-2 vote, with Councilmembers Gurrola and McCracken dissenting.
In a subsequent 3-2 vote, Ward was made vice-mayor, with Mayor Hamilton and Councilman McCracken dissenting.
Thirty minutes was allocated during the meeting for public comment; around eleven people spoke.
Public comment for the agenda item relating to the council reorganization was separated from normally scheduled public comment; attendees were given thirty minutes to comment on the proposed reorganization.
Many supporters from the LGBT community attended, though the assembled crowd was significantly less than had appeared at previous meetings concerning the pride proclamation. The meeting was also significantly calmer than previous ones held.
“This is the third time that this issue has come up, in the last fifteen or twelve years. Unfortunately, it involves the same issue, and the same person,” Teresa de la Rosa said. “What bothers you so much about Virginia Gurrola? That she’s a woman, that she’s a Latina, and that she’s strong?”
“If we’re going to speak about fairness, before everyone dogpiles on Councilman Ward … he’s never sat in the center seat; and, if you wanted to make the case, it’s because of his religious views,” Rodney Martin said. “I’ve seen all of the nasty blog comments, and they’re despicable.”
Ward defended himself against criticism from the public regarding the reorganization proposal.
“I guess adding to bigot and homophobic, I’m now a sexist and racist,” Ward said.
“I have never supported anybody in the center seat after their first year. You can go back and check the public records, I have been an avid supporter of rotation since 2008. It didn’t matter what sex they were, what race they were, what orientation they were. I believe in rotation.”
Councilmember Gurrola also spoke in support of Ward before the vote.
“I can say that Councilmember Ward is not a monster. He is a very good person, he has a family, and he takes very good care of them. He contributes to this community, and is a valued member of this community,” Gurrola said.
“Is it a setback? No. Have I, as the mayor, lost anything? No,” Gurrola said. “Because this position doesn’t define who I am. I define who I am. I can be effective, and any of us can be effective, in any of the positions we hold.”
“I place myself in God’s hand, and he lets me know what is happening, and no one else will do that in his place.”
The vote passed without any contention from the audience or the council; following the vote, the councilmembers voted on various committee reassignments.
During a brief recess following the vote, Gurrola accepted the art piece, created at a recent vigil held in Porterville.