It was standing room only in the Culver City Council Chambers on Monday night as Andy Weissman, Meghan Sahli-Wells, Micheal O’Leary and Jim Clarke were sworn in as the four new members of the City Council and took their places alongside Jeff Cooper.
However, before the official ceremony took place, the City took the opportunity to bid a fond farewell to outgoing Council member Christopher Armenta, who decided not to seek re-election this year.
Following a 10-year-career serving Culver City, Armenta graciously accepted a commemorative plaque and a certificate of commendation from Senator Diane Feinstein.
“We have four quality candidates that we’ve elected and I know when I leave Culver City I leave it in very capable hands,” Armenta said, before adding a special acknowledgement to former council member Scott Malsin and candidate Stephen Murray, both of whom, he said, should be proud of their campaigns for office.
“Lord knows it’s not easy to run for elected office,” Armenta said. “For me to not run again was a very difficult decision.”
Once the new council members were installed, City Clerk Martin Cole explained the need to vote for a new mayor and vice mayor. Cole noted it was a first for the council as usually the sitting vice mayor automatically becomes mayor. However, there was no vice mayor (given Scott Malsin’s resignation at the end of 2012).
Nonetheless, the council wasted little time in choosing the new positions. Cooper nominated Weissman for the mayoral position, which was seconded by Clarke and Weissman nominated Cooper for the vice mayorship, which was also seconded by Clarke. Both nominations were approved by all sitting members.
Council members were then given the opportunity to say a few words.
Sahli-Wells spoke about it being an honor to be chosen to serve Culver City. “I know we’ll work together,” she said of her fellow council members, but added that she regretted the low voter turnout in the election.
“We didn’t reach the 20 percent bar,” she said. “I hope we can work to improve participation in the democratic process.”
Clarke thanked the packed house for attending the ceremony and said, “With apologies to Hillary Clinton, it takes a village to elect a City Council.” He then launched into a long thank-you list of his supporters during the election campaign.
Clarke also quipped that his supporters shouldn’t get too comfortable because, “we have to do all this again in about 18 months.” Clarke was referring to the fact that he will only be serving the two year unexpired term left vacant by Scott Malsin’s resignation. As a result he will have to run again for a seat on the council in two years time.
Micheal O’Leary spoke of his struggle to be reelected noting that he knew he was behind from the get go.
“I’ve now come in third in three elections,” he said, noting in three successive years there were two, three and four seats available on the council. “I’m never running again unless there are more than three seats,” he said.
Weissman spoke of how important it was to have family support.
“It’s impossible to do this job properly without the support of a family,” he said, before adding thanks to “the voters who had the audacity to put me back in office.”
Cooper also took time to say a few words, noting he was “excited to welcome four colleagues up here,” and that he looked forward to working with each of them.
Following the adjournment of the session, Patch asked the two new council members (Weissman and O'Leary are returning council members), what it felt like sitting up on the City Council bench.
"This is the same chair I sat in for the League of Women Voters debate," Sahli-Wells said. "It feels really good. I'm really looking forward to working with everyone."
Clarke told Patch he too was thrilled to be on the council, but as for his new chair overlooking Council Chambers, he said, "I have to get used to the altitude up here."
The new City Council will hold its first full meeting on May 7 in Council Chambers.