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Council Starts New Year With Zneimer at Helm

By Jessica Doherty
The Review

South Pasadena has a new mayor.
By unanimous vote, Evelyn Zneimer was selected for the top job during the last Council meeting of 2023. The California Superior Court judge pro tem grew up and has lived in South Pasadena for more than 35 years, and was first elected to City Council for District 1 in 2020.
Zneimer was nominated by Councilwoman Janet Braun.
Following a round of applause, outgoing Mayor Jon Primuth asked Zneimer a very important question.
“I just have one question: Do you accept the nomination?” he quipped.
Zneimer responded, “Of course, but I do need the blessings of my children.”
In another 3-0 vote, the Council selected Jack Donovan to succeed Zneimer as mayor pro tem. Both Zneimer and Donovan took the oath of office shortly after accepting their new roles on the dais.
“I’m so overwhelmed with the support that’s given to me by City Councilmembers and also from the community,” said Zneimer. “I have big shoes to fill. Thank you for setting a high bar, but it’s going to be a fun year, although we have to hit [the ground running] by Jan. 2.”
Zneimer also provided her final remarks as mayor pro tem.
“It was my privilege to serve as mayor pro tem,” she said. “I have attended several ribbon cuttings and grand openings, which I enjoy because it reminds me that the city is thriving businesswise.”
Primuth congratulated Zneimer and also shared his final thoughts as the city’s leader.
“I have been privileged to be the mayor of this incredible city with a community that is incredibly diverse, dynamic,” said Primuth, who highlighted certain aspects of the community, such as the arts, small businesses and the senior population. “It’s one of the best places in America to live. There’s no doubt about that. It’s an intentional community. It’s a place where people intentionally move to be part of a community. It’s not just circumstantial.
“… South Pasadena gets into your blood and it should be part of why you do what you do in the community, so I’m just absolutely floored that I was able to have the privilege of being mayor.”
Councilman Michael Cacciotti commended Primuth on his ability to balance two full-time jobs while serving as mayor.
“He’s like a long-distance runner,” Cacciotti said. “He started off the race in the pack, he got stronger and he got stronger, and in that last mile kick, he just blew by everyone.”

City leaders also weighed in on the creation of an ad hoc committee to assist with developing a comprehensive site plan for the current Library/Senior Center Complex, which city staff suggested will address the need for a new, modern library facility and consider the need to provide other community services at the site.
The ad hoc committee will also help city staff to select a consultant firm for the project.
The ongoing consideration of creating such a complex has been in the works for some time, and public commenters have expressed frustration for how slow the city is moving to fulfill this project.
Among them were Sally Kilby, Bianca Richards and Dean Serwin, and each spoke on the tumultuous path for the project’s completion, requesting more information on the project’s strategy and who would be responsible for seeing the project through.
Serwin, a member of the Library Board of Trustees, emphasized the importance of the project.
“Our public library is the figurative and almost geographically literal center of our community,” he said. “It and we deserve a vibrant, modern, flexible facility that serves the needs of everyone in South Pasadena.”
Braun, who is a frequent guest at Library Board of Trustee meetings, echoed Richards’ concerns and expressed hopes for the project to reflect the needs of all community members, even those who may not be currently utilizing the library. Braun suggested a “balance” of community members and Council commission members as part of the ad hoc committee.
“I think it’s going to be important to have a lot of new blood, or people who fit a certain demographic — people with kids, young kids who go to the children’s library, or maybe some seniors,” Braun said. “I just think that we might really benefit from just groups that maybe aren’t as involved in the city.”
Braun and Zneimer volunteered to be part of the initial ad hoc committee.

First published in the January 5 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

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