Passing the gavel: Ed Reece becomes Claremont’s new mayor

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

This week Claremont continued its longstanding tradition of reorganizing its City Council and naming a new mayor.

A largely celebratory event, the annual changing of the guard at city hall presents an opportunity to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and difficult decisions, while at the same time looking forward to the challenges ahead.

On Tuesday the selection of a new mayor had to wait until the council officially declared the results of the November election, which saw the reelection of three sitting council members: Jed Leano, Ed Reece, and Jennifer Stark. The trio then took the oath of office in front of a standing room only crowd.

Barring any unexpected occurrences, such as failing to get reelected, the mayor pro tem rotates into the position at the center of the dais. So, it was no surprise when the council selected Reece to become Claremont’s next mayor, which it certified with a unanimous vote.

In a separate unanimous vote, the council selected Sal Medina to be the next mayor pro tem.

“First, let me say thank you to the residents of this fantastic community for electing me to serve another four years. I am honored,” Reece said. “I genuinely love serving in this capacity and helping make a positive difference in so many lives. Next, I want to share my appreciation for my colleagues for electing me to help lead this team. I am excited about the year ahead and look forward to our continued collaboration.”

Reece then noted the historical nature of his appointment. “I also want to recognize that tonight we advanced diversity in our community by installing the second Latino and first openly LGBTQ-plus mayor in the history of the city,” he said.

Mayor Ed Reece, left, congratulates council member Jed Leano on the conclusion of Leano’s year as mayor, during the City Council meeting Tuesday at city hall. COURIER photo/Steven Felschundneff

Reece then highlighted some of the priorities he intends to focus on as he leads Claremont over the next 12 months. They include keeping the city safe and supporting its police officers; continuing to improve the city’s fiscal health and protecting it from future economic downturns; securing funding for the L line extension to Claremont; addressing housing shortages by reviewing an ADU grant program and “well-planned housing opportunities” like South Village; and preserving the city’s arts and culture.

Reece’s most surprising announcement was the planned formation of a special enforcement program to “address quality-of-life issues, including prostitution, human trafficking, burglaries, and traffic safety.”

“But to be successful and efficient, we all must row in the same direction,” Reece said. “That means the community, City Council, commissions, and staff must be on the same page. I believe that page … our compass, is the council priorities and objectives.”

In his remarks, soon to be former Mayor Leano had a long list of people to thank for their efforts over the past year.

“I want to say to everyone present everyone watching on Zoom and all the members of the Claremont community what a tremendous honor it has been this last year to get to serve as the mayor of this wonderful town,” Leano said. “This is a remarkably demanding job. Frankly, I’m glad it’s over.”

He then went on to thank the city employees who assist the council in its job of governing, the support he received from his family and the city’s commissions for thoroughly vetting the many issues that eventually make it onto council agendas. Leano singled out City Manager Adam Pirrie, commenting, “You are doing a fine job managing the staff and without your leadership and staff we simply could not do this. So, thank you.”

A final word of recognition went to his colleagues on the council for the time and effort they put in over the past year addressing the city’s business.

“When you are mayor there are no executive orders, you don’t get to set a unilateral vision,” Leano said. “Whatever is going to happen in the City of Claremont is going to happen because the five of us come together and find solutions to problems. I don’t have any extra votes; I don’t have any extra rights or privileges. All you do is you run a dialog and from that dialog we are going to figure things out. So, to all of you, thank you for an outstanding dialog.”

“I am happy to appreciate council member Leano for his tremendous work as mayor,” Stark said. “I know that it is a very meaningful position, and it truly is a privilege to serve this community. None of us have any authority on our own. We are a body, and it requires a majority to get anything done, and that really underscores the power of self governance. That we rotate this titular position I think also speaks to the collaborative nature of effective self governance. This isn’t a position to be held in glory, it’s a position to be held in great humility and trust.”

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