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Leano, Reece, Stark take oaths of office

Jennifer Stark, Jed Leano and Ed Reece were officially sworn in as Claremont councilmembers Tuesday night.

The newest members of the council took their seats at the dais amid a packed Claremont city council chamber full of family, friends and members of the community. It was standing room only when the council came to order at 6:30 p.m.

Ms. Stark was sworn into office by her daughter, Ruby, and Mr. Leano was sworn in by local interfaith leader Tahil Sharma. Mr. Reece—the former chair of the Claremont Police Commission—was sworn in by Claremont Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen.

Ms. Stark thanked the community for entrusting her to serve on the council and said she felt honored to serve “among such dedicated individuals.”

“To be able to serve Claremont is a privilege only paralleled by the pleasure of being a part of this community,” she said. “It is not lost on me that the reason I am afforded this opportunity is because of you, and the community you represent.”

Mr. Leano began his remarks by saying that he had thought a lot about his opportunity to address the council chamber. Now that he was there, he said, “I certainly don’t know what to say.”

He thanked his supporters, his campaign volunteers, and his family, including his wife Liz, and son Welles.

“Thank you for entrusting the care of this chamber to a new generation of young leadership,” Mr. Leano said. “We will do our best to not let you down, and never before has the weight of this responsibility been so apparent than this moment now. Thank you for the opportunity.”

Mr. Reece thanked his loved ones, from Colorado to Costa Rica, who were watching the council meeting Tuesday night.

“I want to say that in this season of giving, I am very humbled in receiving the gift you have all given me,” he said. “The gift of doing my best to do what is right and what is necessary for our community.”

Ms. Stark, Mr. Leano and Mr. Reece were the top vote getters in a six-person race to fill three vacant seats on the council. Former Mayor Opanyi Nasiali and former Councilmember Joe Lyons retired, and former Councilmember Sam Pedroza decided not to run for re-election this year.

A farewell reception at the Hughes Center was held earlier in the day for members of the community, city staff and regional leaders.

Mr. Pedroza, in his final remarks as a member of the Claremont city council, said it was “truly an honor” to serve as a city representative, and lauded the decorum between members that has helped agendas move forward.

“And it’s that decorum that I think we probably are taking for granted because we’re so used to it,” he said. “But you just have to look at cities nearby and know that that’s not always the case.”

He gifted the remaining councilmembers and the three incoming members a rock with a quote from Judy Wright emphasizing how every member of the city council is part of the continuum of leaders stretching back more than 100 years, and how they must act to ensure that continues in the future.

“This rock represents Claremont in so many ways—It’s solid; they’re plentiful, meaning that ‘Hey, if you screw up, we can always go grab another one,’” he quipped.

Mr. Lyons noted that Ms. Stark’s election to the council marked the first time a woman would sit on the dais since former mayor Linda Elderkin nearly a decade ago. He thanked his wife for her support, as well as city staff for their work.

“It was an honor and privilege to serve this city,” Mr. Lyons said.

Mr. Nasiali thanked his wife in his remarks, and commended his colleagues for their “generosity and spirit of serving the community together,” noting that while they did not agree 100 percent, they still had a strong mutual respect for each other.

“Let us always remember you are never wrong to do the right thing,” Mr. Nasiali said. “I believe my colleagues and I have tried to live up to that sentiment during our tenure together on the city council.”

Corey Calaycay, now the longest-serving member currently on the city council, was appointed mayor for the coming year. This will be his third time serving in that capacity since being elected. Larry Schroeder was appointed as mayor pro tem.

Once the new councilmembers were seated, Mr. Calaycay congratulated the newcomers and shared that he and Ms. Stark had known each other since they were children at Foothill Country Day School. When both of them were in kindergarten, Ms. Stark taught Mr. Calaycay how to tie his shoes.

“I just think it’s so cool that we were classmates way back then and now we’re colleagues on the city council,” Mr. Calaycay said. “That’s really the beauty of Claremont, and I hope it’s something that we all hold dear and appreciate about our town.”

This was the last city council meeting of 2018. The new council will presumably tackle some tough issues their first year, including finalizing plans for the future police station and the proposal for paid parking in the Village. The next meeting of the council will take place January 8, 2019.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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