featured graphic for Lakewood city news during COVID-19, city logo courtesy of Lakewood

Jeff Wood named mayor in council reorganization

The Lakewood City Council completed its reorganization at its April 13 meeting, selecting Jeff Wood to serve as Lakewood’s mayor for the coming year, and naming Steve Croft as vice mayor for the same time period.

The mayor has the same vote as any other council member in meetings, but chairs the meetings and serves as the city’s main spokesperson at public events. The tradition in Lakewood and many cities of its size is for mayoral duties to rotate among the five members of the city council, usually on an annual basis. However, last year’s transition was delayed because it would have occurred just as the COVID pandemic was starting, and the City Council decided to maintain continuity during the public health crisis.

This will be the second term as mayor for Jeff Wood, who was originally elected to the council in 2011. He ran unopposed for the council in 2015, and was re-elected in 2020 to a third term on the council that will run through March 2024.

The council’s annual reorganization night started with expressions of thanks and appreciation to outgoing Mayor Todd Rogers for his service. Rogers will continue to serve as a council member for the rest of his term, which runs through March 2022.

“On behalf of the whole council and really our whole community,” said newly selected Mayor Wood, “I would like to thank you Todd for your extraordinary service as mayor over these past two years. This most definitely was an extraordinary time for our nation and our community…with many extra demands made of you as mayor…and you rose to the occasion in a big way for Lakewood.

“Normally,” said Wood, “on the night that a mayor finishes up their term, we would hold a Lakewood Celebrates reception where the community, the council and legislators from our area can come together to honor your service. Obviously with COVID restrictions, we need to put off such a gathering right now. But we are hopeful that with the way our state and county are opening back up, we can do something like that, or at least similar to that, very soon. So please stay tuned everyone. We’re not yet done honoring Todd Rogers for his time as mayor.”

Before the council’s regular meeting, the council held a special meeting on Zoom about the city’s transition from at-large council seats to by-district seats.

Since its incorporation in 1954, Lakewood City Council Members have been elected through an “at-large” system, where voters of the entire city vote for and elect all five members of the council. In a by-district system, the city is divided into geographical sections or “districts” and the voters who reside within those districts vote for and elect a single council member who must also reside within that district. In a by-district system voters do not vote for candidates outside of their district.

A by-district system traditionally has been used by larger cities in California, but there has been a recent surge of small to medium-sized cities and school districts converting to by-district elections pursuant to a state law, the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). Over 250 cities and school districts across the state are now under a by-district system. Indeed, Lakewood’s decision to convert to by-district elections was prompted by a threat of litigation under the CVRA.

That said, the City of Lakewood is committed to making sure that all residents have an opportunity to participate in and provide input to the process of converting to by-district elections in a manner consistent with the CVRA.

At last night’s special meeting, two professional demographers who will oversee the process asked residents for their thoughts on neighborhoods and other factors that should be taken into account in creating council district lines. About 35 residents and members of the public took part in the hearing, with many offering suggestions and asking questions.

Another meeting will be held on Zoom on April 27 at 5:30 p.m. to which all members of the public are invited. Get the link to the meeting and other information about the by-district conversion process at www.lakewoodcity.org/DistrictElections.

New Lakewood Mayor Jeff Wood (left) and Vice Mayor Steve Croft (right). Courtesy photo.
New Lakewood Mayor Jeff Wood (left) and Vice Mayor Steve Croft (right). Courtesy photo.
This article was released by the City of Lakewood.