New council members, mayor sworn in

Top, Laura Rosenthal, seen with her family, is sworn in as a Malibu City Council member at the Reorganization of the Malibu City Council at City Hall Monday. Below: Lou La Monte is sworn in as a Malibu City Council member Monday night. Photos by Victor Kamont / TMT

Numerous residents and distinguished guests bid farewell to longtime Councilmembers Sharon Barovsky and Andy Stern.

By Olivia Damavandi / Assistant Editor

A new chapter of Malibu politics began Monday night at city hall with the swearing in of newly elected council members Laura Rosenthal and Lou La Monte, and the election of Councilmember Jefferson Wagner as the city’s new mayor and John Sibert as Mayor Pro Tem.

Rosenthal and La Monte won the April 13 election for the two council seats vacated by Sharon Barovksy and Andy Stern, who were termed out. Rosenthal, a clinical psychologist, 55, and La Monte, a television producer, 68, sat together on the Public Works Commission and had the backing of the current council majority, which included Barovsky and Stern.

It was, perhaps, the most emotional city council meeting in recent history. Numerous residents and distinguished guests, including council members from the cities of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village, as well as representatives of Sen. Fran Pavley, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley and Los Angeles Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, bid farewell to longtime council members Barovsky and Stern, thanking them for their decade of public service.

Barovsky and Stern then delivered heartfelt speeches both acknowledging dedicated city staff and previous council members, which were each followed by a few tears and a standing ovation.

Barovsky began by thanking her late husband, Harry Barovsky, who 10 years ago died of cancer during his term on the city council.

“I’m probably the luckiest person that ever ran for the city council because when you run for council you have to decide what the goals are and how to achieve them,” Barovsky said. “I didn’t have to do that. My husband made it very clear where he wanted to go and how he wanted to get there. So all I had to do was get elected and follow directions. So tonight I want to say that when Andy and I leave, there will be three leaving: Andy, Harry and me.

“Most of all I’d like to thank my family. They’ve supported me, they’ve reminded me that anyone can be mayor but not everyone can be a mother and grandmother.”

Barovsky also advised Rosenthal and La Monte on how to be successful council members.

“Keep a sense of humor, grow a thick skin, be passionate in your pursuits and always, always vote your conscience,” Barovsky said. “Thanks to everyone in Malibu, it has been a great run.”

Stern began his speech with a hypothetical scenario of what Malibu would have been like in the absence of the council. He highlighted the city’s past and recent achievements, and publicized his support for Rosenthal and La Monte.

“We made a difference and I’m so proud this evening,” Stern said. “These council members, the prior council members, they took chances that did something to make this a better city. We have a fabulous staff that’s passionate and does a great job.

“Lou and Laura, your winning the election has brought great joy to me,” Stern continued. “I know you’re going to do a fabulous job going forward.”

Stern thanked the residents of Malibu, and said, “Whether you voted for me or not, whether you supported me or not, if you take one thing away from this speech tonight, I hope that you know every year, every month, every week, every day, I tried my absolute best for all of you.”

The incumbent council members also delivered speeches of praise and farewell to Barovsky and Stern, and also made the standing room only audience erupt in laughter with the presentation of some comical gifts.

Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich presented Stern with a new pair of surf trunks and self-tanning oil, while newly elected Mayor Jefferson Wagner presented him with an oversized straw hat, insinuating that he spend more time at the beach.

Conley Ulich quoted Winston Churchill. “You make a living by what you get and you make a life by what you give,” she said. “And [Barovsky and Stern] have given and given and given.”

Sibert said Barovsky and Stern have been great mentors to him, and called their history of public service “remarkable.”

“That’s a legacy these people have left that I hope we can carry forward,” Sibert said. “I am looking forward to working with Lou and Laura, but I’m going to miss you both.”

Wagner, who acknowledged that he did not always see eye-to-eye with Barovsky and Stern, also had kind words for them.

“I thank you very for much for your patience with me and your fairness, and a lot of my decision making was based on evaluations that you had made and helped me with,” Wagner said to the outgoing council members. “In all fairness, I think you did a terrific job at your time here and I want to thank you from the other side.”