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Pedroza drops out of Claremont City Council race

Councilmember Sam Pedroza made a surprise announcement at the tail end of Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

The three-term councilmember was initially planning to run for re-election in November, but changed his mind.

“I decided to take a break to focus on my family, career, health, and tend to deferred maintenance on my home,” he said. “I’d like to thank my fellow councilmembers, our staff and my supporters for making my time on the council a fulfilling and great adventure. I’d like to thank my family for their tolerance, and I’d like to thank my detractors for helping me see other views.”

City Clerk Shelley Desautels said that Mr. Pedroza initially pulled papers to run in this year’s election, but returned them before the council meeting on Tuesday.

Mr. Pedroza, 50, will leave with 12 years as a councilmember under his belt. He was first elected in 2007 and again in 2011. The 2015 council election was cancelled, giving Mr. Pedroza a guaranteed third term. He served as mayor twice; once in 2011 and again in 2016.

As he read from a prepared statement on the dais, he thanked community members and especially volunteers who he worked with throughout his tenure on the council.

“I do feel like I’m leaving on a good note. I leave knowing that I was part of a great time in Claremont, and perhaps I’m a small part of greater days to come in the future,” he said. “I leave with no regrets, and nothing but graciousness in my heart for allowing me this great opportunity.”

After the meeting adjourned, Mr. Pedroza said the “timing was right” for him to take a step back and look for additional opportunities.

“I hope that by closing the door it opens other doors for my career, and then we’ll see what happens,” he said.

When asked about his biggest accomplishments as a city councilmember, Mr. Pedroza mentioned his championing of south Claremont and the upcoming Gold Line extension, where he worked to bring the billion-dollar light rail line to Claremont. He told the COURIER he looks back on those items with a “sense of accomplishment.”

He said he hoped he succeeded in making the council more accessible. 

“I think there were a lot of folks that felt it was an unapproachable body, and we’re not,” he said. “I felt I was a part of that.”

But ultimately, with an already crowded candidate field, Mr. Pedroza felt it would have been a tough road to re-election.

“I would say it could probably be my hardest election, and at the same time my motivation wasn’t there like it was in the past,” he said. “So that coupled together it just seemed like, you know what? We have great people that are running, so I’m sure we’ll be okay.”

Mr. Pedroza said he wants to continue his involvement in city affairs after his term is done. He also plans to work on behalf of SB1, the gas tax initiative that pays for road and infrastructure projects. Californians will vote on the initiative in November.

With Mr. Pedroza’s exit and Mayor Opanyi Nasiali and Councilmember Joe Lyons retiring, there are no incumbents running to keep their seats. Four candidates so far—Zach Courser, Jed Leano, Ed Reece and Jennifer Stark—are vying to seek the three open seats.

If no incumbent seeks re-election, the deadline to file as a council candidate will be extended from August 9 August 15, the city clerk said.

Employee MOUs approved

The council also approved, in the consent calendar, memoranda of understanding between the city and numerous employee groups.

The agreements are a result of months of closed-session negotiations. More on that will be in next week’s edition of the COURIER.

The council will recess for the month of August, and won’t convene until September 11.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com