Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian took the oath of office on Wednesday, Dec. 19, to become South Pasadena’s mayor for the next calendar year. Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger administered the oath to Dr. Khubesrian in front of a packed house of admirers in City Council chambers. Khubesrian then gave her inaugural address. (Please see speech) Khubesrian touted the demise of the 710 Freeway extension, saying it was a monumental feat to beat back one of the most controversial road projects in the history of Los Angeles County. State Assemblyman Chr Holden was on hand to celebrate Khubesrian’s swearing-in along with other dignitaries from neighboring cities.

Mayor Marina Khubesrian Inaugural Address

  • Good evening everyone!
  • Thank you very much for joining us on this special night.
  • I am so honored to serve as Mayor of this amazing city during an important time in our history.
  • Before I give my inaugural address, I’d like to start with a few introductions and recognitions. 
     
    • First, my family
      • My mother Rima
      • My husband Mark
      • My children Sophie and Max
      • My sister Nune and my niece Emily.
    • Will my family please stand so we can recognize you!
    • To my friends: you know who you are. Thank you for being here and for your love and support.
    • I’d like to thank my colleagues on the City Council for your support.
    • I’d like to thank and recognize other elected officials and representatives here tonight:     
      • State assembly member Chris Holden
      • County Supervisor Kathryn Barger
      • And from State Senator Anthony Portantino’s office, Evette Kim.
    • And finally, I’d like to acknowledge some of the groups with us tonight whose work I’m passionate about and will be supporting throughout the year:
      • WISPPA –  advocates for women’s leadership and transparency in our city government
      • SPARC – strong partners for the city as proponents of public art
      • And SALEF, the Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund. They do amazing work on behalf of migrants’ rights, and delivering  medical, legal and humanitarian aid to migrant shelters.
  • Thank you all for joining us tonight.
  • Now I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about my vision and goals for the City of South Pasadena in 2019.
  • As I said, this is a very important time in South Pasadena history.
  • It’s a new chapter.
  • And it’s a very exciting chapter.
  • For nearly six decades the top priority of this city has been to defeat the 710 freeway extension.
  • For as long as any of us can remember, the 710 battle was the top priority for our city and community.
  • The fight defined us.
  • It consumed an unimaginable amount of time, energy and resources.
  • Of course it was all worthwhile.
  • The 710 extension would have destroyed everything we love about South Pasadena.
  • Thankfully, at long last, the 710 fight is over.
  • Thank you to the generations of activists who fought this battle.
  • Thank you to the members of the current City Council and staff who helped forge the right consensus among regional elected officials and decision-makers.
  • It’s hard to believe, but the future we envisioned is here.
  • I think we should take some time to celebrate.
  • Let’s take a deep breath and enjoy this moment.
  • We did it!
  • But at the same time, we also need to turn our attention to what’s next.
  • No longer do we have to define ourselves as being against something.
  • Now we get to stand for something.
  • When I think about many of those activists who fought the 710, what comes to mind are some very creative people: artists, architects, musicians, designers, and many more who are unified by their love of South Pasadena.
  • We need to unleash that creativity in new projects as we move the city forward.
  • I want to help harness that spirit of activism for new initiatives in a new age – to create a renaissance for South Pasadena.
  • One of the key components of that renaissance is in our business community.
  • I’ve heard from many residents and business owners who love our city as it is, but see value in creating a more robust business district.
  • One of my priorities for the coming year will be strategic economic development.
  • The goal will be aimed at supporting businesses we have, while attracting new, dynamic businesses to our city.
  • I believe we can preserve what we love about South Pasadena — and add to it.
  • I want to establish South Pasadena as a desirable and unique destination for shopping, eating and entertainment.
  • I’d like to see more variety in our businesses.
  • I’d like to see more night life and all the energy and excitement that comes with it.
  • I want to see more of our residents keep their tax dollars here in South Pas.
  • The less we have to drive out of town to do our shopping, the more it benefits our businesses, local jobs, and tax revenue for the City that can be reinvested. And it reduces our collective impact on the environment.
  • We will be engaging the community on these issues in the coming year as we create an economic development plan to move the city forward.
  • Just as the arts helped lift Europe out of the Middle Ages, I believe that art will be a key part of our City’s renaissance.
  • Art gives a city life, vibrancy, culture, identity, and a sense of place.
  • It is also a powerful economic development tool.
  • The City has taken exciting steps in recent months, with our SPARC partnership, the City Hall art gallery, and the establishment of development fees for public art projects throughout the city.
  • We now have a Public Arts Commission, for the first time in city history.
  • This year I want to build on that.
  • You will see more recognition and promotion of music and visual arts this year as we celebrate and champion local artists.
  • The renaissance of our city will need all voices at the table.
  • A centerpiece of my goals this year is to encourage more diversity in the City.
  • We will have a stronger community when more women, more people of color, and more of our younger residents participate in local government.
  • I’m thrilled with the amazing response we have had to our vacant commission appointments. We will soon be seeing much more diversity on our city commissions.
  • But that’s just a start.
  • I want to bring a special focus on women’s leadership this year.
  • I believe the City can do more to encourage women to pursue and attain positions of leadership.
  • This year we will be hosting a Women’s Leadership conference that will focus on mentoring, training opportunities, career development, and more.
  • We will be recognizing the achievements of South Pasadena women of all ages and stages of their professional lives. 
  • We will be promoting educational scholarships for young women seeking careers in leadership.
  • We will be honoring South Pasadena women from throughout history, so that they will be role models for all of us.
  • A few months ago, as we were celebrating the groundbreaking of a new city reservoir, my Council colleagues brought up a great point about investments in city infrastructure.
  • For decades, the city made no investments in our water systems. Our water facilities were old, aging, and in one case, shut down after a roof collapsed.
  • The failure to invest in infrastructure – a crisis that we are seeing on a national level – shifts an enormous burden on to the next generation.
  • As we all know, these investments always get more expensive as time goes on.
  • Thankfully, in South Pasadena, we’ve been making the necessary investments to bring our water systems up to date.
  • We have also put a lot of money into street repairs and bike-friendly upgrades that will improve the quality of life in our community.
  • We now have the opportunity to partner with our neighboring cities to improve our regional transportation infrastructure.
  • Now that the 710 is not being funded, we will be getting millions of dollars for local projects.
  • These include the 110-hookramp and regional solutions that will make a huge difference in terms of traffic flow and mobility.
  • I will also be asking staff to take a closer look at some of our less critical, but important city resources, such as the Arroyo Park golf course facility.
  • I’d like to see the golf course facility become a desirable destination for food, entertainment and recreation.
  • This year we’ll be looking at some short and long-term projects to make that happen.
  • Emergency operations will be another top priority for me during my year as mayor.
  • We’ve recently completed the renovation of the emergency operations center and introduced the City’s first emergency public information plan.
  • But there’s a lot more to be done.
  • We need to continue to engage our community so that everyone understands their role in a disaster, and can get the critical information they need to help their families and neighbors.
  • Another key value of mine as an elected official is transparency.
  • The days of closed-door deals and secret promises in city government will never return.
  • However, complying with state open meetings laws and ethics rules are just the minimum.
  • The city must do all it can to be as transparent as possible – over and above the legal baseline.
  • Starting this year we will be audio recording all commission meetings and making those available to the public – something we’ve never done before.
  • As the year progresses, we will be examining our policies and procedures to find ways to make the city even more transparent and accessible to the public. 
  • I’d like share a few thoughts on the most pressing issue of our time.
  • That is the environment and climate change.
  • There is no greater cause than the crisis now facing our planet.
  • All other progress will mean nothing if the planet becomes uninhabitable because of the continued use of fossil fuels.
  • Tragically this issue is being ignored — and even made worse — by the policies of our current Presidential administration.
  • But we can be leaders here at home.
  • Everything we do at the City can — and will — be viewed through the lens of sustainability and climate change.
  • The solutions are within our grasp – if we act boldly, and we act now. 
  • I’m proud that South Pasadena has joined the Clean Power Alliance, which will begin delivering 100 percent green, sustainable energy to our city this year.
  • It will start in February for residents and in May for businesses.
  • You’ll be hearing much more about Clean Power Alliance throughout the coming year.
  • But I want to emphasize tonight what an important step this is for our city to fight climate change on a local level.
  • For the first time ever, we will be able to purchase energy that has been generated entirely from sustainable, non-fossil-fuel sources. 
  • We have opted for 100% renewable energy – one of 8 cities in LA and Ventura Counties to do so thus far. 
  • It’s like having a solar panel on every roof in the city, generating 100 percent clean power!
  • This is a major and important step.
  • But we need to examine all potential solutions on a worldwide level.
  • I am asking our City staff and Council to engage regularly with regional, state and national elected officials on issues of sustainability, so that we can lend our voice and support to global solutions on climate change.
  • I ask the community to join us in this effort.
  • In conclusion, I’d like to say once again what an exciting time it is for South Pasadena, and how honored I am to be your mayor for the coming year.
  • We have lots to do. But I believe we have the will and the resources to make it happen.
  • We have a great city staff.
  • We have a council that works well together and respects each other.
  • We have amazing civic, community and non-profit organizations helping to move the city forward.
  • We have incredible residents who are willing to step up and help make their community a better place. Our record number of commission applications is just one example.
  • The South Pasadena Renaissance has begun.
  • I call on everyone in our city and region to do their part — whatever you can and however you are able – to contribute to that success.
  • Thank you for your support.
Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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