Richard Loa

Richard Loa

PALMDALE — In a meeting that included a number of items relating to annual assignments for the coming year on Tuesday, the City Council elected Councilmeber Richard Loa to serve as mayor pro tem, succeeding Councilmember Austin Bishop.

The mayor pro tem is effectively the vice mayor, stepping in when Mayor Steve Hofbauer is not available.

He also serves as the vice chair of several other governmental bodies, including the Successor Agency, Housing Authority, Airport Authority and Civic Authority.

Loa was appointed by Hofbauer, with the Council voting unanimously to approve the appointment.

“I want to personally thank Mr. Bishop for his hard work and dedication,” Hofbauer said. “I fully expect that we’re going to be engaging a lot in this next year. We’ve got a lot going on.”

Bishop requested to continue in the role for another year.

“Since I work local and I’ve been very engaged in a lot of the events and made myself available to community, I would like to stay on if the Council so pleases,” he said.

Hofbauer said he was trying to engage more Council members in the proceedings by assigning the position to other members.

Councilmember Laura Bettencourt had expressed interest, he said, but work commitments made it difficult at this time.

“I think her time will be coming up here,” Hofbauer said.

In February 2017, the council changed the process of selecting a mayor pro tem to a majority vote of the Council instead of the previous method of rotating the position among council members, providing each an opportunity at the job.

Loa, a Palmdale attorney and former councilman, was appointed by Hofbauer a year ago to fill the remaining two years in the term representing District Two that had been vacated by Hofbauer with his election as mayor.

In addition to appointing the mayor pro tem, the Council also reviewed its representation on various other governing bodies.

Hofbauer wanted to ensure consistency in some areas, but changes were needed for a few bodies.

One change was made to the city’s representation on the North Los Angeles County Transportation Coalition. The current makeup has three Council members assigned, as well as an alternate. This creates some issues in avoiding violating the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law.

“The problem is we can never talk,” Hofbauer said, because the three constitute a quorum. “Every other agency has made a point not to have three council members on there.”

To avoid the problem, he proposed appointing Planning Commissioner Bart Avery to the business representative seat, replacing Bishop.

In addition to his Planning Commission role, Avery has also served on the airport committee and has been closely following the high speed rail station development plan, Hofbauer said.

To maintain consistency with the inter-related transportation projects, Hofbauer also suggested Loa take Bishop’s first alternate seat on the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority. All Council members are also alternates on that Board.

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