Bill Hart peeks over the shoulder of Mayor Bob Kellar in the ground-floor lobby of City Hall on Tuesday.
It’s not the first rodeo for Mayor Bob Kellar, who took his seat at the head of the dais in Santa Clarita’s City Council chambers Tuesday evening.
It marked the third time in Kellar’s 12 years on the council that he has been selected to serve a one-year term as Santa Clarita’s mayor.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Kellar said. “There’s always a lot to be done. We’re a very progressive city.”
The five members of the City Council choose among themselves each year for the largely ceremonial position of mayor. They voted 5-0 Tuesday to name Kellar mayor, followed by another 5-0 vote naming Councilwoman Laurene Weste as mayor pro-tem.
Kellar faces a number of key challenges as he returns to center stage, including talks of building a 69-million-ton open-pit gravel mine in eastern Canyon Country.
He’s looking to 2013 as a turning point in the city’s decade-long fight to block the Mexican cement giant Cemex from exercising its twin, 10-year federal mining permits.
Kellar recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., with Weste and other city officials who met with Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, and U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in search of new legislative solutions to the Cemex matter in the upcoming congressional session.
“This is going to be a very … defining year for the Cemex issue,” Kellar said. “We should be hearing more about that in the first quarter of 2013.”
The new mayor plans to tackle other pivotal environmental issues, as well, including the cleanup of toxic and hazardous materials left behind after decades of munitions manufacturing in the middle of the city.
“We should be able to ramp up and intensify the cleanup operation that is taking place at Whitaker-Bermite,” he said.
And then there’s the matter of removing chloride – salt – from the runoff water that Santa Clarita Valley residents send downstream to the farms of Ventura County. A regional agency has been pushing local officials to erect a treatment plant that could cost SCV citizens hundreds of millions of dollars, and the local officials have been trying to stave it off.
“This chloride issue is another big issue for us as we work with the sanitation district and our regional water quality control board,” Kellar said.
Kellar clinches the mayoral title three months after the opening of the Old Town Newhall Library.
“I attended the Literacy and Arts Festival last week at our new library, and I was so excited to see such an incredible turnout of our citizens,” he said. “I could not help but be enthusiastic and so pleased to see our new library being used at such a satisfactory level, and then some.”
“Things of this kind are quality-of-life issues for our community, and every time we have little improvements – whether it’s median improvements or the beautification of our community with new artwork – these are all great things for our community, and I take a great deal of pride when I see those occurring,” he said.
Kellar noted it’s a time of change as Ken Striplin takes on the responsibilities of city manager. Striplin is Santa Clarita’s first new city manager in 10 years.
“I’m looking forward to working with all of those that have come together to make good things happen in this community,” Kellar said.
You can join Mayor Bob Kellar on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at an official unveiling of a Christmas tree dedicated to Santa Clarita’s Gold Star parents in the City Hall lobby at 23920 W. Valencia Boulevard.