Laura Olhasso named new La Cañada Flintridge mayor

Exiting Mayor Steve Del Guercio was honored by friends, officials and local agencies for 14 years of service on Monday night before City Councilwoman Laura Olhasso was named the new mayor of La Cañada Flintridge.

Olhasso was first elected in 2003 and has served two previous terms as mayor. Her last stint as the top elected official was in March 2009 to March 2010, a period that included the double-fatal truck crash at the base of the Angeles Crest Highway, the Station fire and some post-fire, storm-induced debris flows that destroyed properties in some of the city's neighborhoods.

City Councilman Michael Davitt alluded to that year when he nominated Olhasso.

“Laura has served this city with great dedication over the years and has shown remarkable leadership in both crisis and non-crisis situations,” he said. “So we're going to hope for non-crisis situations this year.”

Council members selected Davitt as mayor pro tem. The City Council selects members for both positions each term.

“It truly is an honor representing this community,” said Olhasso. “I've done it twice before and as Mr. Davitt said, I certainly hope this time is much more calm.”

Planning Commissioner Jon Curtis was sworn in as a new member of the City Council, filling a seat left open by Del Guercio, who did not seek reelection. Curtis won one of two seats on the council in the March 5 election, earning more votes than either City Councilman Dave Spence or newcomer Joe Layton.

Curtis led the race with 40.7% of the votes cast. Spence, who retained his seat, came in second with 39.2%, while Layton earned 20.1% voter support.

Del Guercio was feted for his two years on the city's Planning Commission, followed by 12 years on the council.

South Pasadena Mayor Richard Schneider, Former Assemblyman Anthony Portantino and representatives from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich's office offered recognition certificates and gifts to Del Guercio.

A representative from Rep. Adam Schiff's (D-Burbank) office offered the exiting mayor a flag that had been flown from the U.S. capitol. Members of the Trails Council and the No 710 Action Committee also recognized Del Guercio for his achievements during the past year.

City Manager Mark Alexander presented whimsical gifts — a model RV, a Tree City USA hat, a replica of the Jessen Drive Bridge and a 7-Eleven Slurpee — that represented issues Del Guercio tackled over the past year.

“Thank you for all your years of service and your friendship to the city staff,” said Alexander.

Greg Brown, a former La Cañada mayor and councilman, recalled a rough period the city experienced before Del Guercio took office.

“The city was torn apart,” he said. “We had a city council that was totally dysfunctional.”

He said the city improved after Del Guercio was elected to the council.

Council members said they will miss Del Guercio on the dais.

“I want to thank you for your encouragement and support, especially during these last couple years in my rookie season,” said Davitt. “As you can see from everybody here, you're so appreciated … and the city is a better place because of you.”

Del Guercio said his time on the council has been “one of the greatest honors of [his] life.”

“I'm a better person for it,” he said. “I think I'm going to miss it, but it's the right thing to do.”

Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter @LATiffanyKelly.

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