Bergman voted new LH Heights mayor
By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal
Outgoing La Habra Heights Mayor Roy Francis sat on the middle chair in the council chambers April 10 for the last time during his first run as mayor, ending what some officials described as an eventful and productive era.
And before moving his seat at the table one over to the left, Heights councilmembers all voted in the first springtime meeting to accept the nomination of Councilman Brian Bergman as the next mayor of the city, continuing a tradition of promoting the mayor pro tem as the next agenda setter.
“I want to thank Roy for all the hard work that he’s done over the last year,” said Bergman, who was elected mayor for the third time. “We did have a lot of issues, but Roy didn’t falter in any of those.”
In his stead, Francis oversaw the start of the city hall renovation, a change in decorum rules at the chamber podium and the hiring of a new trash hauler. And he witnessed community backlash against almost every decision made, including a lawsuit filed by community activist George Edwards.
But when asked about his accomplishments, Francis, an ex-firefighter, chose to look forward instead.
“I don’t dwell too much on that stuff. I just move on and try to do what’s best for the whole community,” Francis said.
Francis did not make any commitments on whether or not he will run next election, instead opting to weigh his options.
La Habra Heights council members elected Bergman as mayor for 2014-15. Bergman’s council term ends in March 2017. Although not required, tradition has dictated that the mayor pro tem become the next one in charge.
As mayor, Bergman, an operating manager of aircraft flight maintenance at a major airline, will oversee such issues as the Matrix oil drilling, state-mandated storm water management and pollution control, street repairs and the completion of the construction of city hall.
His first run at the helm was in 2007 when taking over the position from Tela Millsap. This was just before the nation’s great recession that devastated the economy, proving to be a difficult beginning for a first-time mayor. Yet Bergman seemed poised and experienced.
Councilman Kyle Miller, who was on the roads committee, asked the new mayor towards the end of his first meeting to place the city’s dilapidated roads on the agenda, “I would like to start the conversation on our roads,” Miller said. “The roads are deteriorating. It’s something we have to think about.”
Council members, in a unanimous vote, agreed to Miller’s assertions, and the topic will be discussed at a future council meeting.
Along with electing a new mayor, La Habra Heights council members defeated the outgoing mayor’s nomination of Jane Williams as the next mayor pro tem, instead electing Michael Higgins for the position.
Bergman, Higgins and Miller voted against Fancis’ nomination of Willliams’ for the position.
Bergman explained that he could not vote for Williams because he did not know if she would run for city council next election, attempting to avert the possibility of an inexperienced newcouncil member becoming mayor. Williams is the only woman on the La Habra Heights council.
“She’s been there a year and a half. She’s paid her dues,” Francis . “She deserves to be at the spot. She knows a lot of people and she gets a lot of information.”
Francis added that Higgins will do fine as mayor pro tem, stating that there is not much to the job, except for carrying the title and being another vote out of five.
Even though it seems — with four male council members and one female — men dominate the Heights council, the city has a history of female mayors, slight as it may be.
There have been a total of six different women and 17 different men holding the title of mayor. Men held the post 25 different times, while women did so 10 times. The first mayor of La Habra Heights, Jean Good, was female and held the post four times from 1979 to 1990.
Williams told the Whittier Daily News that she planned on running in the next election.