For the sixth time since she first joined the dais in 1998, Laurene Weste listened Tuesday night as her fellow council members once again chose her to represent the city of Santa Clarita as mayor.
During the annually held end-of-year City Council reorganization meeting, outgoing Mayor Bill Miranda handed the gavel over to Weste following her unanimous vote for the position, officially completing his first term serving as mayor since being appointed to the council in 2017.
In addition to naming the symbolic head of the elected body, the council members also unanimously voted their newest member, Jason Gibbs, into the position as mayor pro tem under Weste. It will be the first time Gibbs has held the position, being elected to the seat in 2020 and succeeding longtime former Councilman Bob Kellar.
After being handed the gavel, Weste said she would be looking to finish enhancement and rehabilitation projects throughout the city, acquire new land for open spaces, continue to oppose placing high-risk offenders at Camp Scott, as well as a number of other policies.
“I personally look forward to a respectful discussion with my constituents about our common goals,” said Weste. “I know nothing is perfect. But I believe if we’re listening to each other, and we’re sharing ideas, we can sustain our community and we can find ways to do things better.”
While the incoming mayor used her speaking time following her nomination to touch on those things she was looking forward to working with the community and city staff on in the coming year, the outgoing mayor used his final speech as the 2021 mayor to reflect on both his and his community’s journey over the past year.
“In the late spring and summer of this year we were pretty quiet, so I chose to write my memoirs,” said Miranda during a visibly emotional moment for him in his speech. “It’s the story of an inner-city kid who dreamed of a better life, and then grew up to be the mayor of the 93rd (largest) city in the United States of America.”
Miranda praised the work he and his fellow community members did together in 2021, but also took time to thank his predecessor in the job, Cameron Smyth, for what he had done in 2020 as mayor and in the community’s first year of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to providing financial relief for local residents and businesses, over the last two years City Hall was able to open and complete multiple projects in spite of the pandemic, from opening the new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, to completing the Canyon Country Community Center to holding a groundbreaking on a multi-million-dollar expansion of Central Park.
Throughout the meeting, a number of community leaders, government officials and residents came to the podium to praise Miranda and his fellow council members for the work they had done over the past year.
“I want to say,” Miranda added, “that it’s been an honor to be your mayor in 2021. I’m truly humbled by the experience and my life has been truly enhanced by it. And I thank you.”