First published in the June 25 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
Ara Najarian’s successful reelection bid to the Glendale City Council assured he will become chair of the L.A. Metro board of directors for the fiscal year beginning on Friday.
Najarian, a councilman since 2005, was formally selected by his Metro peers on Thursday, following the agency’s policy that sets up the first vice chair to rotate into the top spot. He has represented the North County/San Fernando Valley sector for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency since 2006.
In taking the chairmanship, Najarian succeeds L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis for the role.
“I have some huge shoes to fill, but I will aspire to work collaboratively with this board to advance the best interests of the county,” Najarian said following Thursday’s vote, adding cheekily, “and I’m going to turn down the zeal for my future comments. You’re going to miss my antics and maybe I’ll be a little more professional in my chairmanship.”
Solis said she was pleased to pass the gavel to Najarian, whom she praised for his stalwart support for a variety of projects during her year at the helm.
“[You’ve] been wonderful to work with, being a good representative of the San Fernando Valley and North County. Your support this year has meant so much to me,” Solis said. “I know that the entire region is looking forward to you becoming our chair.”
As votes have been tabulated these past weeks from the June 7 election, Najarian’s seat at L.A. Metro appeared that it may be reaching its end.
Metro’s board composition, among others, includes sitting council members or mayors from four cities other than Los Angeles representing each of the agency’s four regions. In addition to the San Fernando Valley/North County region, there also are the San Gabriel Valley, Southwest Corridor and Southeast Long Beach regions.
With the L.A. County Registrar updating the mail-in ballot count twice weekly since June 7, Najarian had at one point slipped to fourth place in the election, which goes to the top three candidates. By late last week, he regained a slim advantage at third place, which held through this week with virtually all ballots now counted.
Najarian, an attorney, is also the chair of the Metrolink Board of Directors, on which he has served since 2013, after first serving there from 2007-2012. He serves there as a representative from L.A. Metro, meaning he also would have lost this seat had he lost reelection.
Succeeding Najarian as first vice chair of L.A. Metro was Jacque Dupont-Walker, an appointee of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. She promised on Thursday to, in part, continue Najarian’s spirit.
“I’ll pick up some of his antics to keep some of the flavor in our meetings,” she quipped.