Three Fresh Faces Elected to City Council Seats

The City Council’s makeover that began two years ago is officially complete, after voters elected to send Gretchen Shepherd Romey, Ken Ude and Susan Jakubowski to the three seats being vacated next month.
According to a preliminary count from the Los Angeles County Registrar, the three candidates were elected decisively among a field of seven. Shepherd Romey, a lawyer; Ude, a businessman; and Jakubowski, a former business owner and county bureaucrat, will tentatively take their seats next month. Shepherd Romey, with 1,617 votes, led the field.
“I’m thrilled,” she said Tuesday night. “I’m honored to be with my fellow candidates as future council members. They’re all outstanding and I’m very grateful.”
Having shelved a legal career for a life dedicated to volunteerism and nonprofit work in San Marino, Shepherd Romey had zeroed in on historic and environmental preservation as a headline to her campaign. She has been particularly vocal as an attendee of City Council and Planning Commission meetings this year as they worked on a historic preservation ordinance.
Her list of volunteer efforts includes the Huntington Library, National Charity League, Hill-Harbison House, San Marino Garden Club, San Marino Junior Alliance and the parent-teacher associations at her children’s schools, all throughout her 20 years in San Marino. Throughout her campaign, she cited her responsibilities for those groups’ budgets as giving her the skills for the City Council.
“I think a lot in the community were excited to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders who have been active, but who haven’t necessary stepped up to parts of the city organization yet,” she said. “That’s a trend and we’re seeing the results.”
Ude, who had a reported 1,460 votes as of Tuesday night, said he was humbled by his victory and the confidence voters have in him.
“I didn’t run into this thing to tell mom and dad that I was a neat person,” he said Tuesday night. “I did it to help people out, so it’s kind of a lot of responsibility on my shoulders.”
Ude, arguably the least public figure of all the candidates when the field was set, credited his performance at a San Marino City Club-sponsored voter forum last month for helping propel his campaign to victory. His business chops, he said, made it easy to answer questions on the spot and on a timer.
“I think the forum for me was a huge differentiator, period,” he said. “I also think with an election like this, the community knows who you are. They’re voting more for people they know and trust on the specific issues.”
Ude’s career has put him in the driver’s seat of six private equity-backed firms with the decree to bring them back to profitability and efficiency. The Pasadena native has lived in San Marino since 1986, sent his three daughters to San Marino’s schools and has dedicated his free time to the San Marino Schools Foundation and San Marino Community Church.
Jakubowski, with 1,450 votes, was overwhelmed with elation when the final precinct’s results were reported Tuesday.
“I’m feeling hopeful and extremely excited. We stayed with it. We stayed the course. ‘We are one San Marino’ has never deviated,” she said, referring to her campaign slogan. “It’s been an amazing group of people and knocking on so many doors getting so many perspectives.”
A member of the city’s Planning Commission since last year, Jakubowski used the experience of keeping a lid on excessive development to her advantage as a candidate: the community’s public cries for stronger community preservation has resonated louder and louder this calendar year, which was a refrain that helped guide the previous election as well.
Jakubowski, who previously owned an overseas manufacturing business before working for the Los Angeles government, also was one of five who served as citizen advisers for an ad hoc committee that prolifically outlined a stack of recommendations for sweeping procedural, organizational and fiscal changes in City Hall.
“I want to not be recycling the same old stuff,” she said. “I feel like I know the city really well through the ad hoc and there’s a lot of work I’ve wanted done that isn’t completed. We really need to get them implemented, because they’re solid and the city council already improved them.”
Results for the four remaining candidates were 726 votes for Calvin Lo; 512 for Dr. Hai-Sou Chen; 484 for Scott Kwong; and 376 for Eugene Sun.
The three City Council member-elects will replace the outgoing mayor Dr. Richard Sun, Vice Mayor Richard Ward and Councilman Dr. Allan Yung. All three are in the sunset of their second terms in office and, although eligible for a third term, declined to seek re-election. The city adopted term limits midway through their inaugural terms, granting them a sort of grandfather status.
They also will join councilmen Dr. Steven Huang and Steve Talt as first-term council members here, effectively redrawing the face of San Marino city politics in the span of two elections. Huang and Talt were elected on platforms of strong fiscal conservatism and with an eye of strengthening the ways by which City Hall preserves San Marino’s unique look and feel from those who would level unassuming and historic homes for ostentatious and towering mansions.
Trailing are the remaining vote-by-mail ballots that were postmarked no later than Tuesday, which must be received and accepted by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk by Friday. After all ballots are received, the final tallies are counted and the results will be certified locally at the Dec. 13 City Council meeting. Assuming they’re certified then, Shepherd Romey, Ude and Jakubowski will take their oaths of office and be seated for remainder of that meeting, beginning their terms.

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