Santa Clarita City Council members named Jason Gibbs mayor for the 2023 calendar year Tuesday, following the city’s unwritten but long-followed tradition of passing the gavel to the previous year’s mayor pro tem.
Gibbs, an aerospace engineer with GP Strategies, was first elected to the council in November 2020 and thanked those he credited with helping him throughout his life, as well as his wife and young children.
“The (City) Council has set the way, if you will, for a lot of great activities, so I just hope to continue that, to be a part of it, and address what comes up,” Gibbs said shortly after his swearing-in. “When (issues) come up, it’s our job to listen and find a way forward to help everybody.”
Laurene Weste, who was mayor pro tem in 2021 before taking the gavel last December, nominated Gibbs as soon as the city clerk put the motion to the floor. It quickly passed with a 4-0 vote. Councilman Bill Miranda missed Tuesday’s meeting due to an illness.
“It has been my extreme honor to serve as mayor in the past year,” Weste said Tuesday, noting she attended more than 100 events, and led the city’s burgeoning response to the fentanyl crisis, its ongoing battle with the county’s Probation Department over its effort to turn Camp Scott into a facility to house high-risk juvenile offenders and a groundbreaking for the homeless shelter, as well as several other key events this past year.
There was little discussion of who would be mayor pro tem in 2023 — ergo the odds-on mayoral choice for 2024, which will be an election year for Gibbs and Councilman Cameron Smyth if they choose to run again.
Smyth was nominated by Weste as soon as the question was put to the floor, and the motion passed quickly with a unanimous vote.
The mayor holds a somewhat ceremonial role in Santa Clarita’s council-city manager form of government, but the role is the most visible representative of the council, responsible for representing the city in most public appearances unless he or she is unavailable.
Smyth was briefly nostalgic during his comments on the dais, harkening back to his first term as mayor, and shared that he and Gibbs spoke about the challenges of balancing work, public office and two small children, which was a challenge Smyth faced when he first served as mayor in 2003, similar to Gibbs.
“It was nice to hear Jason’s comments and the enthusiasm that he brings to the job,” Smyth said, “and I think it’ll be a good year. And I certainly can relate to the challenges of serving as mayor with two young children. I’ve shared with him the importance of not getting overcommitted, because that is easy to do.”
Gibbs is the only member of the current council serving his first term.
Smyth is serving his fourth term, and served as mayor in 2003, 2005, 2017 and 2020. Councilwoman Marsha McLean, who’s serving her fifth term, has served as mayor in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. Weste, who was recently elected to a sixth term on the council, has served as mayor in 2001, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, as well as 2022.
Miranda was first elected to his second full term in November, after having served as mayor in 2021, and pro tem in 2020. (Miranda’s first term technically started in 2017, when he was appointed to fill the seat vacated by former Assemblyman Dante Acosta’s election to the Legislature.)
The organizational meeting followed a closed session discussion of a lawsuit the city faces over an alleged California Voting Rights Act violation, which did not result in any report in public session, according to City Attorney Joe Montes.