Jed Leano has been named mayor of Claremont, making it the second Filipino mayor in the city’s 114-year history.
In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, December 14, Claremont City Council elected Leano and City Council Ed Reece as Mayor’s protest for next year. Both joined the council in November 2018. The council changes its leadership annually.
Leano spoke by phone on Thursday, December 16, about the challenges the city faced over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic. In his first 50 days as mayor, Leano said he wanted to “listen and learn” from as many people as possible – especially those who do not follow local government.
“I want to spend this time talking to people we don’t hear from, those who don’t come to meetings,” Leano said. “I just want to give as many people as possible access to the city administration.”
The city is busy, Leano said, including updating its housing plan and determining how to spend the US bailout dollars. Dealing with these tasks takes bold thinking and creative ideas, he said, adding that the pandemic has taught officials a lot about housing, health and public safety.
“We say things like ‘We’ll come back from the pandemic stronger,’ but the goal is not to get back to what it was in March 2020, it is better,” he said.
Leano joins a small but growing number of Asian Americans and city guides from the Pacific Islanders in the San Gabriel Valley. With hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on the rise this year, Leano said his appointment as mayor was important to the region.
“The past year has been a turning point for a lot of AAPI people, especially in our own community,” said Leano. “So, being able to serve as mayor and showing representation is important.”
Leano is chairman of the San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust Board, vice chairman of the Tri-City Mental Health Board, and Claremont’s representative to the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments.
“I promise you that I will work every day to do this job with the class, dignity and respect you have come to expect from the Mayor of Claremont,” Leano said Tuesday.
The council meeting on Tuesday was the first face-to-face meeting since March 2020. Outgoing Mayor Jennifer Stark, appointed in December 2020, said her tenure had been shaped by the health crisis, which also brought tax and safety challenges.
She listed achievements such as the city’s budget surplus, agreements with trade unions and the introduction of pilot programs such as the inclusive housing and waste program.
“It was a year that the pandemic and all of the challenges that came with it were overcome,” said Stark. Stark compiled a list of the last 18 women who have served on the council since 1946. She was the twelfth woman in the city’s history to be appointed mayor.
“You inspire so many, but above all many women,” said resident Darlene Byrd at the meeting.