In her second stint as the city’s mayor, Paula Devine said she plans to continue moving the city forward as it emerges from the restrictions and calamity of the coronavirus pandemic.
Devine, who joined the City Council in 2014 and was re-elected last year, took on the largely ceremonial role at this week’s meeting, within the framework of the city’s recently modified mayor selection policy. Before conducting the remainder of the meeting, Devine outlined an agenda of continuing work started this past year and charting new paths.
“Our shared goals to make our neighborhoods stronger, safer and healthier are still at the core of who we are and the reason for everything that we do and every decision that we make,” she said Tuesday. “We have much to do in the next year.”
Moving forward, the city will continue working toward a transition to being run on renewable energy, including through retrofitting the Grayson Power Plant, Devine said. She said she will also push the city to continue exploring Vision Zero policies, with a goal of reducing traffic and pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
Devine added that she looked forward to continuing progress on the city’s anti-racism work, which it began last summer in the wake of nationwide protests demanding a culture shift away from institutional racism of that past that either persists to this day or whose far-reaching effects continue. The city adopted a “sundown resolution” last year in which it acknowledged and apologized for past racist practices in Glendale and it continues to promote historical programming on the topic.
“It is of the utmost importance that we all respect humanity — that is, we all respect each other,” Devine said.
The new mayor added that she looked forward to developments to come, including the results of an upcoming tech incubator being hosted in the city and the implementation of new transportation options throughout the city. She said she is also eager to take up the findings of a blue ribbon panel that evaluated potential pension reforms.
First and foremost, however, will be guiding the city’s residents and businesses through the end of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Rebounding from the pandemic, we must focus on economic resiliency. Everything we do will be through the lens of the COVID recovery,” she said. “We will work to ensure that our vitality and reputation as a destination city remains intact and that we experience a regrowth, guaranteeing our fiscal sustainability.”
Devine’s predecessor, Vrej Agajanian, bemoaned that the pandemic shut down the social niceties of being mayor — speaking at events and ceremonies, traveling abroad — but credited his colleagues and city workers for helping to make a relatively successful year “even during an unforeseen pandemic, unforeseen difficulties and a strange time.” Using grants and Measure S tax dollars, the city funded a number of programs to supplant rent, pay for equipment and financially support small businesses this past year.
“2020 was an extraordinary year for all of us,” Agajanian said. “What we found is that what makes a great city is not the events of the activities that you have. What makes a great city is the community and how much we support one another. While we were really tested this year, we proved that collectively we are a strong and great city.”
In reflecting on his year, Agajanian said he did his best to amplify his colleagues’ voices while not being unnecessarily repetitive during debates.
“During my mayorship, one of my main objectives was to act as a leader, mediator and coordinator — not as an oracle,” he said. “I wanted to give the most chances to my fellow council members to voice their opinions and not be the only one speaking solely because I was in the mayor’s seat. I specifically wanted to avoid wasting city and viewers’ and residents’ precious time by merely repeating issues and statements already expressed by my colleagues.”