By Katta Hules
The city council has welcomed two new members and a new mayor. April Verlato and Peter Amundson were sworn in Tuesday, April 26, along with City Clerk Gene Glasco.
The new council then voted to appoint Councilmember Tom Beck as mayor with Amundson as his mayor pro tem. “We’ve been through a rough patch … but I’m really optimistic about our future,” said Mayor Beck, “I think that rough patch is behind us.”
The swearing in came after a reception catered by Matt Denny’s as well as the commendations and final statements of the outgoing councilmembers, Mayor Gary Kovacic, and Councilman Mickey Segal. Both men were lauded for their time in office, over 12 years for Segal and 18 for Mayor Kovacic.
Segal, who requested not to be given a plaque or recognized in any way, was given a farewell speech, gift card from the mayor and his wife Barb, and a poem by Kovacic called “Ode to Mickey Segal.”
Segal, who was called upon to fill the remainder of Councilmember John Wuo’s term after his resignation, described his six months on the council as “by far the most unusual term I have served.” Segal came into office with two goals. The first was to pass an improved zoning code that would meet “the desires of all citizens in [all] areas of our city.” The council passed the residential zoning code last week. The second was to defeat Measure A. “I want to congratulate all of us Arcadians on the defeat of Measure A. We made a bold statement to outsiders that our city is not for sale and don’t try and tell us what’s best for our citizens,” Segal said. He thanked his wife, the city staff, and congratulated Mayor Kovacic on his time in office. “Gary is the one who got me into politics over seventeen years ago,” Segal said, “And most of the time I thank him.”
Kovacic was presented with several commendations from community groups such as the Arcadia Board of Education and the Foothill Unity Center as well as fellow politicians including Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
Kovacic joked all the congratulations and speeches about his accomplishments was akin to “hearing your own eulogy without the prerequisite of dying.”
Kovacic went on to thank his wife, who is “smarter than me, works harder than me, never complains about all the money we spend on UCLA season tickets.” He also thanked his mother Florence Kovacic who lead the pledge of allegiance opening the meeting and who he described as “always providing the perfect example of civic virtue.”
The former mayor shared some lessons he learned from his time in the mayoral seat including the age-old adage “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” and the reminder one must always remember why one was elected. He also urged the audience to volunteer and give back to the community. “You don’t have to be sitting up here to make a difference.”
Kovacic has not decided whether he will run again, instead leaving his options open. He and Segal got a standing ovation as they left the dais, leaving the seats open for the newly elected councilmembers.
Deputy City Clerk Lisa Mussenden swore in Glasco so he could in turn swear in Verlato and Amundson, who took their seats to another standing ovation. “I look forward to working with the gentlemen up here and being a different perspective and a fresh new voice,” Verlato said.
Nominations for mayor were put in with Amundson picking Beck and Councilmember Sho Tay nominating Mayor Pro Tem Roger Chandler. Chandler declined, thanking Tay for his “vote of confidence.” Amundson called it the “classiest thing I’ve ever seen at a city council meeting.” Beck was appointed unanimously. He outlined his agenda, saying he wanted to return the city to being “Sleepy Arcadia,” cut down crime, especially burglaries, promote commercial development, and improve city communication with non-English speaking residents.
Amundson was nominated for Mayor Pro Tem by Chandler and approved unanimously. “There’s something special about serving your hometown,” he said. Amundson vowed to crack down on illegal massage parlors and the sex trafficking they foster, expand downtown, be accountable to residents, and help new residents
“assimilate.” He said his motto would be “honest, direct, and respect” during discussions and he will not “take or say anything personal.”
Both mayor and mayor pro tem will serve until April 2017. The next council meeting will be Tuesday, May 3, at 7 p.m.