On Tuesday evening, the Torrance City Council went through a major changing of the guard, with Pat Furey being sworn in as our new mayor; and Kurt Weideman, Heidi Ashcraft, Tim Goodrich and Geoff Rizzo being sworn in as new council members. Weideman had been appointed to the council a year ago when Councilwoman Susan Rhilinger resigned due to health; and Ashcraft was appointed in December when Cliff Numark was elected to the El Camino College Board of Trustees. They have a combined year and a half of experience compared to the 30 years of experience between the departing Mayor Frank Scotto, and Councilmen Bill Sutherland and Tom Brewer. It is going to be an interesting time for Torrance; no doubt.
The evening began with a ceremony marking the departure of City Clerk Sue Herbers who retired after 20 years of service. In her farewell address she mentioned that she will still be around and be as active as ever; even if it is as an audience member. She did mention that if the council decided to accept applications for the vacant seat that we now have since Furey became Mayor, she would apply. More on that later, but personally, she would be outstanding.
Herbers last official duty was the swearing in of Council members Weideman, Ashcraft, Goodrich and Rizzo; Pat Furey as Mayor and Rebecca Poirier as the new City Clerk. And with that we lost 50 years of experience in one swoop.
After this was completed Bill Sutherland gave a very emotional farewell address which caused a lot of tears on both sides of the dais. This was followed by Tom Brewer and Frank Scotto who were both just as emotional; all three of them thankful for their friends, family and the people of Torrance as well as the experience overall. As they were running out of tissues a recess was called and a nice buffet of treats was available in the lobby.
When recess ended we had a new mayor in place along with the new council members joining Councilman Gene Barnett; and the council had one vacancy, due to the fact that Furey was now Mayor. If Brewer or Sutherland had won, Furey would still be on the council but the other two had termed out so they could be mayor or nothing. The main piece of business that had to be addressed was how we fill the vacant seat. There are two options; they can hold a special election at a cost of about $200,000 or the city council can appoint someone to hold the position for the next two years. In the last 20-30 years this has never been settled by a special election; considering only 28% voted in June, it sounds like a huge waste of money. That is why we have a council, so we don’t have to have a special election every time something comes up. Thanks to people like Nick Green of the Daily Breeze there are lots of rumors circulating. I recommend everyone watch the video on the City Council website, click the second “View Video” for Tue, July 15, 2014. It is a couple hours long, but the most important part begins around an hour in; that is when they discuss what really happens.
Contrary to Green’s assertions that we now have a split council, they were in agreement that the seat should be an appointment. I have to say that when Sue Herbers told me she would be interested in the appointment I decided that is a no brainer. She understands more about how this city runs than anyone that might submit. We need some experience on the city council; I will lobby for Sue Herbers.
I had to leave before it ended, so if you want to hear what our new council had to say, go watch the video. Personally, I have a laundry list of things I am going to be addressing. I am looking forward to working with them, it is going to be interesting, but we can do it.