Mayor Susan Jakubowski and City Councilman Ken Ude have told the Tribune in an in-person meeting that they will not be defending their seats in the Nov. 1 election.
Council Member Gretchen Shepherd Romey, whose term also expires in December, said earlier this year she is “considering” running for re-election, but has been out of the country and did not immediately return messages asking if she would be defending her seat.
Jakubowski, Shepherd Romey and Ude were elected in 2017 and their terms were immediately set at five years to comply with the state of California’s provision to hold elections in even-numbered years.
“Four-and-one-half years goes by in the blink of an eye, but the thought of four more years feels like a real long time,” Jakubowski said. “My bucket list of extended travel experiences is tugging at me.”
San Marino’s current mayor said she is “proud” of what the council has accomplished during her tenure, and singled out Ude, who has served with Jakubowski as co-liaison to the city’s finance department.
“Our goal was to simplify the budget process, to become more transparent and user friendly,” Jakubowski said. “After the arrival of Finance Director Paul Chung, that became very easy.”
Jakubowski declared she will not go gently into what she called her “retirement” from the City Council.
“During my last six months as mayor, I am hopeful that we can complete our DEI [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] work group charge, break ground on the San Marino Center renovations, and that we can support a pilot mobile crisis unit to support our police department.
“The community has been warm, kind and appreciative of our city council work, and often shared their appreciation,” she concluded. “I have greatly enjoined working alongside our long-term members of our executive team and our committed employees. It is my hope that we, as a council, are closing out our term together with a city in a stronger financial place than we found it, holding a healthy financial reserve, with clearer new or updated quality-of-life ordinances, and responding in the best way possible to the myriad of state-mandated housing and building requirements.”
Retired from both an overseas manufacturing business and an administrative role in Los Angeles County government, Jakubowski joined the council with experience in the private and public sectors.
She previously chaired the city’s Planning Commission and was an advisor to a city-appointed ad-hoc committee that assessed city department operations.
Ude also said he has enjoyed his term on the Council, but “decided that five years will be enough.
“Being on the Council is important work and I hope we get some good people with strong business and financial acumen to run,” Ude said. “The business and financial experience is really important.”
A self-avowed “lifelong businessman,” Ude pointed to some of the council’s accomplishments during his term.
“I’m particularly proud of the work we did focusing on creating our capital improvement program and in improving our budgeting process,” Ude said. “We worked with staff and created a comprehensive five-year capital improvement program and then funded it with over $20 million to address our aging infrastructure, including streets, sidewalks, sewers and our physical assets, like the San Marino Center. We now have a process in place to continue to move excess funds from our general reserve into the capital-improvement program.”
He also pointed to his work as co-liaison to the city’s finance department with Jakubowski.
“The result has been operational and financial transparency that has led to four years of a clean financial audit,” Ude said. “Financially, the city is in really good shape.”
It didn’t come without a setback, in Ude’s estimation.
“One of my bigger disappointments is that we were not able to tackle the Stoneman property and figure out the best long-term use of that asset,” he said. “Unfortunately, today it remains an albatross with no obvious viable option moving forward.”
With three of its five seats up for grabs at the Nov. 1 election and two incumbents — Jakubowski and Ude — not running, the City Council could lack experience heading into 2023. Council members Steve Talt and Dr. Steven Huang do not face re-election until November 2024.
The San Marino School Board could be in store for an almost complete change, with four seats scheduled to be contested in November. Jane Chon has two years remaining on her term, but the seats of Shelley Ryan, C. Joseph Chang, Mike Killackey and the fifth board member who will replace Nam Jack are set to appear on the Nov. 1 ballot.