With the chambers of City Hall filled to standing room only with residents, friends and family, Council Member Gretchen Shepherd Romey was unanimously voted by council to become San Marino’s next mayor and Council Member Ken Ude was similarly elected to serve as vice mayor Wednesday night.
In addition, Council Member Steve Talt and former Mayor, now Council Member, Dr. Steven Huang, were sworn in by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge and San Marino resident Elizabeth R. Feffer after being reelected to City Council
“I must say it’s a great honor to serve as the next mayor of San Marino,” Shepherd Romey said at the meeting. “I believe in my heart that San Marino is a very unique and special place, whether you were born here, you were raised from childhood here or you came here as an adult, like myself.”
Shepherd Romey delivered thanks to her family, the support of the community, the mentorship of San Marino’s first female mayor, Rary Simmons, and to residents Nancy Hoffman and Marilyn Peck for their advising. She also said she was grateful for an all-female campaign committee that supported her. Shepherd Romey is the fourth female mayor in the city’s 106-year history.
She also noted coming into her role as a woman on the council during an important societal time and she will be looking to encourage more women to become politically active.
“I’m privileged in many ways not the least of which that I entered public service at this important time that society is finally ready to listen to women, so in the words of [Supreme County Justice] Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ‘I am thankful for that,’” said Shepherd Romey. “That gives me an added responsibility to reach out and encourage other women in our community to serve in this capacity or others in public service.”
Shepherd Romey shared that she will work with City Council, residents and city staff toward “preserving and protecting our great community” by focusing on the major issues of public safety, preserving the city’s “beautiful neighborhoods” and city resources, as well as protecting the city’s environment.
For public safety, she said she would look to utilize the speedy survey report, traffic consultant recommendations and city staff recommendations over the next few months in order to address the “increasing number and severity” of accidents in the city, noting a trend of an increase in injuries and those that involve vehicle and pedestrian collisions.
“In making this a focused initiative over this next year, my goal is to have zero traffic fatalities and a decrease in the percentage of injuries and protect our residents and make San Marino a safer place,” said Shepherd Romey.
Preserving the city’s natural environment was another focus. She introduced Sammy Estrada as the city’s appointed and first-ever public forester, who will work to develop a plan and work with staff to educate residents on proper tree care maintenance, tree program and preservation ordinance.
Noting Lacy Park as “a jewel in our city,” Shepherd Romey said she was also committed to making progress on the master plan of the park and was committed to the reconstruction of the Rose Arbor.
“I will monitor its progress and get it rebuilt in a financially sound and expeditious manner as possible,” Shepherd Romey said.
She saluted the council’s work, under former Mayor Stephen Huang’s direction, in the first historic preservation ordinance to preserve the character of the community. The city is currently in phase two or the ordinance, the historic resources survey. The consultant is continuing to research and investigate potential historic resources within the city.
“To ensure that that effort is as complete as possible, I ask that the community members continue to provide feedback and information through Director [Aldo] Cervantes of our Planning and Building Department in order to make that process a success,” said Shepherd Romey.
In conclusion, she said that there is “significant housing legislation that is coming from Sacramento that threatens our traditional understanding and the residential character of our city.” She will be directing staff to monitor the bills and the council will be considering “whether to assert a more definition position to preserve our heritage and the unique character of San Marino.”
“I will work hard and diligently to put San Marino residents first in all things in this next year,” said Shepherd Romey.