The Arcadia City Council on Tuesday installed three new council members and shifted the rotating offices of mayor and mayor pro tem.
Sharon Kwan, Eileen Wang and Dr. Michael Cao won their respective races in Districts 2, 3 and 5 and began their inaugural four-year terms on the council.
The city’s new mayor is Councilman Paul Cheng and the new mayor pro tem is Councilwoman April Verlato.
The three new officeholders are first-time council members, and their elections mark a couple of other firsts: the five-member panel now has an Asian majority, and until now there have not been any Asian female council members in the city’s more than 100-year history.
In the Nov. 8 election Kwan defeated Tracey Jensen Han and Bob Harbicht, who in prior years has served on the council. Chang bested Eileen Wang, and Cao defeated Danielson, Jason Lee and Daniel Malki.
“Each of us has a responsibility to our community and each other,” Cao said. “Together, we have a responsibility to protect our citizens with public safety, work hard to ensure good health and honor those who have sacrificed before us.”
Kwan, who has served as president of the Upper Rancho Homeowners Association on the boards of the Methodist Hospital Foundation and the Downtown Arcadia Association, said she “was very excited to be one of the two very first Asian-American women elected to Arcadia City Council in history. I can’t stress enough how vital it is to have more diverse representation on the City Council, especially given the large proportion of Asian residents — especially Asian female residents in this city.
“I look forward to representing District 2 residents, and I’m very excited to join the City Council along with Councilwoman Wang and Councilman Cao,” Kwan said.
Wang, an educator involved with a number of community organizations, said children’s issues will be a high priority during her tenure and added that “in order to achieve full potential, we are going to need city leaders together. We must see the opportunity in front of us and face our challenges head-on. … I’m going to fight for our values: family, faith and our people.”
Outgoing council members Michael Danielson, Sho Tay and Mayor Tom Beck spoke after receiving presentations from a wide range of elected officials, business leaders and community groups.
“I feel really good about my contributions, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve met a lot of people, and I felt it was an honor to serve the city of Arcadia,” said Beck, who was on the council for more than eight years and also thanked a wide range of officials and community members.
“I’m not going to miss being on the City Council, but I’m going to miss the people,” Beck said. “I’m really excited to see what the future brings to me and what I’ll do. I know that it will involve … volunteering and helping other people because I believe the more you help other people, the more you get in life.”
Tay aimed words of caution at the three new members, warning against making moral judgments about people that stem from political differences of opinion.
“Even if residents come up here, call you names, make you upset, it’s OK,” he said. “They just express their opinion. You have to be able to accept that, if not, you will be miserable. …
“I’m so fortunate to have the people here, good friends — even though good friends doesn’t mean always have the same opinion,” Tay continued. “But, we are good as a team. … Don’t expect too much, just accept everyone. Love one another, and you can make this work great.”
Danielson, who was appointed after the death of Councilman Roger Chandler, also thanked a wide range of community groups and individuals as well as his council colleagues.
“It’s been a great honor to serve the people of Arcadia as councilman in District 5,” Danielson said. “There have been very many big decisions over the last 10 months that affect our city, our present and our future. These included two building projects, two beautiful memorial gardens, upgrading Newcastle Park, dealing with homelessness and redistricting.”
Danielson also noted less high-profile matters that affect individuals and neighborhoods.
“I have sought to make principled decisions on all these matters and to bring our city together to ensure our future,” he said.
Assemblyman Mike Fong, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, County Assessor Jeffrey Prang, Monterey Park Councilwoman Yvonne Yu and Cindy Wu from the Mountain View School Board delivered words of encouragement and praise words for the new and outgoing council members.
The council also heard from Arcadia school board members and representatives from Rep. Judy Chu’s office, USC Arcadia Hospital, Santa Anita racetrack, Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, Arcadia Chinese Association, Arcadia Downtown Improvement Association, Foothill Unity Center and Monrovia, Arcadia, Duarte Town Council.