A welcome for new Claremont Mayor Sal Medina

Former Mayor Ed Reece, left, congratulates his successor, Sal Medina, as they switch seats during Tuesday’s Claremont City Council meeting. Courier photo/Steven Felschundneff

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

The Council Chamber was packed Tuesday with people offering appreciation to former Mayor Ed Reece and welcoming Mayor Sal Medina at the annual changing of the guard at City Hall.

With two unanimous votes the Claremont City Council approved the appointment of Medina to mayor and Corey Calaycay to mayor pro tem.

Most of those in attendance were there to see Medina take the mayor’s gavel, including his extended family, friends, fraternity brothers, former classmates, and one of his former professors from University of La Verne.

“I would like to thank my colleagues for entrusting me in this role for the next year,” Medina said. “As the first council member to be elected through the district process, I am excited for the opportunity to represent and serve our city both locally and regionally in this new role. The idea of a rotating mayorship reaffirms the commitment we have all made to represent the city as a whole and not simply through the eyes of our individual district. It is fair to say that I am excited, honored and yes, even a little bit nervous to take on this new role as the next mayor of Claremont. But I am certain that if I should ever need some guidance, I don’t have to look too far to find a past mayor willing to give me some advice.”

New Claremont Mayor Sal Medina receives a standing ovation after being appointed at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Courier photo/Steven Felschundneff

As mayor he pledged to stand by the “four pillars” of his campaign: financial responsibility, public safety, economic development, and community engagement. He listed continuing the pay down the unfunded liability to CalPERS as an ongoing priority.

“The next year will prove to be a challenging year locally nationally and globally,” he said. “At times it feels that division is the only thing we have in common with one another. Over the next year I would encourage us all to use more words like we and us and less words like me and I. We are collectively stronger. We are collectively smarter. And we can get more work done and be more successful than me or I could ever.”

Medina closed his remarks by telling a story about how as a child he was left in Mexico while his parents pursued a better life in the United States. He wondered if the 10-year-old Sal could believe the successes he would achieve in life, including becoming mayor of a city.

“I owe my success to all the support given to me by my family, both biological and chosen. I owe it to all my friends from grade school to university and beyond. It is because of the we in my life that I am able to strive for the American dream,” he said.

Unlike some cities that elect them directly, Claremont mayors rotate on an annual basis among the five members of the City Council. As such Claremont mayors do not have any additional authority aside from the responsibility of running the meetings. That said, they do tend to take on pet projects which they spend the year working to get accomplished.

“My goal would be that we start to identify, whether it be a mini master plan, or a more collective effort, on fixing some of the infrastructure issues that exist in South Claremont,” Medina said following the meeting. “While we are doing a very good job at fixing the issues reactively, I’d like to be proactive at really making all of Claremont look beautiful from corner to corner.”

That proactive work includes repaving streets, improvements to public landscaping, and fixing the traffic congestion problems associated with the underpass at the 10 Freeway and Indian Hill Boulevard.

“Some of it is working with our regional partner, CalTrans, for sound walls, the underpass and off-ramps, things of that nature,” he said. “If you ever exit the 10 Freeway whether you are going east or westbound, that area is highly congested, prone to accidents, and is an area that needs additional attention.”

Reece listed some of the challenges the city faced in 2023, and its accomplishments.

“As I am in the final moments of serving as your mayor, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude, pride, and optimism for the future of our beloved city,” Reece said. “Over the past year, together, we have achieved remarkable milestones that have not only improved the quality of life for Claremont residents and enhanced businesses, but have also set the stage for a brighter and more prosperous future.”

He cited the hotel/motel ordinance and associated targeted police operations around the motels adjacent to the 10 Freeway as significant steps toward fixing the longstanding problem of crime in that area.

“Through our concerted endeavors, we made our streets safer by apprehending over 50 individuals engaged in illicit activities, sending a powerful message that Claremont will not tolerate criminal behavior,” Reece said.

Other noteworthy accomplishments include raising the city’s reserve goal from 25% to 30%, and funding that reserve with a $1.8 million infusion; reducing the city’s pension liabilities by $2 million; hiring more community services personnel to ensure public spaces like the Village parking structure and parks stay clean; and adopting a resolution condemning hate crimes and hate speech.

With Medina’s appointment, all of the sitting members of the council have had a turn serving as mayor.

“A few years back it was the first time ever in the history of Claremont we had a council of mayors, and once again tonight with you coming in as mayor, Sal, we once again have a council of mayors,” Calaycay said.

There are no more City Council meetings in 2023, but City Manager Adam Pirrie said the next couple of months will be busy.

Medina will lead his first full length council meeting on January 11, 2024.


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