City hall in Manhattan Beach was packed Tuesday evening and the energy high as the city welcomed new leaders.
In an emotional transition, Suzanne Hadley and Hildy Stern were sworn onto the city council, replacing termed-out incumbents David Lesser and Amy Howorth.
The women join Mayor Steve Napolitano as well as Councilmembers Richard Montgomery and Nancy Hersman on Manhattan Beach’s first female-majority council.
Hadley and Stern are both political newcomers and 20-plus year residents of Manhattan Beach with a history of community volunteerism, especially within the school district.
"I'm going to stick to my agenda and what got me elected," Hadley said of her campaign items, which included a continued ban on short term rentals, renewed focus on public and school safety, security for small businesses and less spending at city hall. "I'm humbled, it's a privilege to serve. I am a simple person. I'm going to try and do the basics well."
Stern said she planned to boost communication and resident involvement at city hall.
"We really always have to be balancing that there's many different stakeholders in every issue," said Stern.
Stern will also focus on furthering green initiatives within the city and approaching challenges with creativity, such as development on Sepulveda or a potential move to county fire services.
While the Manhattan Beach constituency seemed elated to welcome the women onto the panel, the exit of Howorth and Lesser seemed particularly bittersweet.
Several speakers, including City Manager Bruce Moe, honored the outgoing councilmembers, discussing their impacts on the city.
Moe, who is known for writing poems for city hall events, said the two exiting officials were exemplary leaders.
"You dutifully stepped forward to address the need and showed us the way, and how to lead," Moe rhymed to Howorth and Lesser. "The time has now come to swear in your successors."
Hadley earned 3,111 and Stern garnered 2,363 votes, according to Los Angeles County Registrar election results certified March 22.
In a close race for third place, candidate Joe Franklin received 2,172 votes and former city Councilmembers Mark Burton and Wayne Powell garnered 1,972 and 1,917 votes, respectively. Other candidates included Brian Withers, who received 649 votes, and Joseph A. Ungoco, who earned 307 votes.
A total of 25,558 voters registered in Manhattan Beach, according the county, but the city had historically low voter turnout with only 7,188 ballots cast—representing 28 percent of the constituency.
In 2017, total turnout was about 29 percent and in 2015, when Amy Howorth and David Lesser were reelected, turnout was 19.4 percent.
Voters in the March 5 election also passed Measure A by just over 71 percent—with 5,186 votes in support of the measure.
Manhattan Beach's Quality of Life Measure, as it has been titled, will raise the city's hotel bed tax from 10 to 12 percent in May 2020. The measure also paves the way for a potential increase from 12 to 14 percent in April 2022 and could net an extra $1 million in city revenue.
—Daniella Segura contributed to this report.