Wednesday night in the Turlock City Council chambers, eight mayors of Stanislaus County will decide if Matthew Beekman will remain on the Local Agency Formation Commission.
Six mayors got it in their heads that Beekman, the mayor of Hughson, should act as a proxy for them instead of deciding issues on their merits. Those mayors wanted to allow cities to set unreasonably low fees on builders converting ag land into residential housing prior to annexation into a city. When Beekman voted to require a more realistic formula for determining those costs, some mayors became angry and scheduled a vote to remove Beekman.
That six mayors are trying to influence a vote in this manner is wrong. Beekman’s duty, under the law, is to represent the interests of all residents of the county – not those of the mayors – as he sees fit.
If Beekman is voted off the commission, it will not be a mark against him, it will reflect badly on any mayor who votes for his dismissal. At least three of them should join forces with Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh and Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth and refuse to remove Beekman.
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It should be noted that several of the cities that took umbrage at Beekman’s vote are represented by a single law firm. That same firm also provided mayors with a faulty reading of both the law and Beekman’s obligations under it. The specific language of the law has been provided – including the page number – by LAFCO executive director Marjorie Olsson-Blom.
It appears Beekman is being punished for daring to stand up to housing developers and their proxies. If they want to be perceived as the tools of developers, that’s their decision. But, eventually, it is the voters who choose the mayors – not the builders.
Matthew Beekman should remain on LAFCO.