Phil Smith has a long history in Tehachapi. In addition to serving as Tehachapi’s mayor four times and as a councilman for the past 34 years, Smith was unanimously chosen as mayor for a fifth term by his fellow councilmembers on Dec. 21.
“I am honored to be selected by my peers to be mayor. I consider our council to be a group of professionals that are there for the community and are very civic-minded. We just want to continue our good, solid progress in the community,” Smith said in a Dec. 23 telephone interview.
Smith went on to say he is proud to be part of a community that is volunteer-based and driven.
“We have so many organizations that are volunteering for the community and our nonprofits that do so much in the background. A community effort that other communities just don’t have. I am really pleased to be part of that,” Smith said.
Smith also praised Tehachapi’s management team, and said he was happy with the five-year plan.
“Our budget is always balanced, and that’s critical. We are doing very well, and are in good financial shape as a city right now,” Smith said.
The council meeting also included the swearing in of Councilman Michael Davies representing District 3, Councilwoman Christina Scrivner representing District 2, Victoria Marsh as city clerk, and Stacy Curry as city treasurer. All ran unopposed.
Also, Davies was unanimously selected to the position of mayor pro-tem. The positions of mayor and mayor pro-tem are two-year terms, and are selected by the five councilmembers from among themselves.
Davies’ roots in Tehachapi go back 40 years. After moving away for awhile, he returned to the city in 1990.
“I really enjoy being on the council, and I have learned a lot. I study the agenda a lot and ask a lot of questions. I think as a council we work very well together,” Davies said.
Due to the coronavirus, Davies said there are “many talks going on” among councilmembers.
“I am proud of all our city employees, and how they are working around this COVID,” Davies said.
As the outgoing mayor, Susan Wiggins took over the reins of the city as mayor pro-tem after the passing of Mayor Ed Grimes in 2018, and was chosen to serve as mayor in 2019.
“The new mayor has more experience than I ever thought of. He will do a wonderful job,” Wiggins said of Smith.
As for Davies, Wiggins said, “He has a heart of gold and a real service heart so I know he will do real good, too.”
Asked what issues the council will focus on, Wiggins said the city is focusing on controlled growth.
“We want to make sure that we have enough water for things, and we want to do it in an orderly manner,” Wiggins said.
City Manager Greg Garrett said he is proud of all sitting councilmembers, especially the new mayor and mayor pro-tem.
“Those are very important roles,” Garrett said. “There is so much to do. People think that city councilmembers attend two meetings a month, and that simply is not that case. It is a daily job, and they do it with passion. They are not paid to do it, and we appreciate them stepping up.”