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Sundberg becomes Langley's newest councilman

Jim Sundberg takes the oath of office to become Langley
Jim Sundberg takes the oath of office to become Langley's newest council member on Monday.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

LANGLEY — The changing of the guard continues at Langley City Hall.

Jim Sundberg took the oath of office Monday to become the city's newest councilman.

Sundberg, who turns 70 next week, emerged as the front-runner in August's three-way primary race and finished with a convincing, 65-percent win in last month's General Election over Robin Adams.

Sundberg will serve in Council Position 3, and replaces appointee Fran Abel on the council.

Before Sundberg was sworn in Monday, city officials took time to honor Abel for her service to the city. She joined the council in May 2010 to fill the seat left vacant by Jim Recupero's resignation.

Abel was praised for her work with city staff in starting the Second Street market, helping to launch a hearing examiner system in the city, and for her willingness to make her views known.

Mayor Paul Samuelson said she had served during "interesting times."

"You've hung on, been diligent to speak your mind, and shared your truth, and hold the best interest of the city in your hands," Samuelson told her. "I, as a citizen, not only as mayor, am tremendously grateful for that."

Abel thanked her fellow council members, especially her "council sister" Councilwoman Rene Neff, and recalled the times they went out for wine after council meetings to unwind. Abel presented the mayor with a bouquet of flowers, and passed around a box of Fran's chocolates in the council chambers during her heartfelt goodbye.

Sundberg's arrival, and Abel's departure, marks the start of the post-election changeover at city hall.

Councilman Hal Seligson, also an appointee who joined the council last year, ran unopposed for his seat in November and was sworn in Monday, as well. He has roughly two years remaining in his term (a partial term that Seligson acquired through the  the resignation of Russell Sparkman and last month's election).

Larry Kwarsick will step down at year's end from his job as planning director for the city of Langley — a post the council agreed on Monday to give to Community Planner Jeff Arango — and Kwarsick will become Langley's next mayor. He replaces Mayor Paul Samuelson, who decided in June not to run for a second term. A private party for the outgoing mayor has been planned by Samuelson's supporters for Saturday.

Kwarsick will be the city's 26th mayor.

At the start of 2012, R. Bruce Allen will join the council and serve in Position 4. Allen, who watched from the front row Monday as the newest council members took their oaths, won the seat by 27 votes over Thomas Gill on Election Day. Councilman Bob Waterman currently serves in Position 4, and he also declined another run at elected office.

The changes, come January, will find five relatively new faces in six of Langley's elected positions. Only one council member, Neff, was on the council two years ago. And with the 2011 General Election now in the history books, the city will have just one appointed member still on the council. Councilman Doug Allderdice was appointed to the council in September to fill the vacancy left by Robert Gilman's resignation; Allderdice will serve until the November 2013 election.

At Monday's council meeting, Sundberg thanked voters, and repeated the theme of economic development that he touted during his campaign.

"My thanks to the people who have supported my efforts to basically continue some of the work that I was doing on the Planning Advisory Board and, of course, take on many of the new issues that come here to the city council," Sundberg said.

He said he was particularly interested in the success of the city's new Main Street program, and noted that organizers were building a small database of existing businesses and vacant commercial properties that will be used to help the organization energize efforts to welcome and promote new enterprises in the downtown.

So far, the group has counted 25 new businesses in Langley.

"The number of new businesses is quite impressive," Sundberg said.

He also added that he was also interested in working on transportation issues, including a focus on promoting transit, pedestrian and bicycling in the village, as well as low-speed electric vehicle usage.

Sundberg, who has a master's degree in city and regional planning from the University of California-Berkeley and more than five years as a planning professional, is currently the chairman of the city's Planning Advisory Board.

The city has not yet received a letter of resignation from Sundberg from his position on the PAB. He is expected to attend the advisory board's next meeting, on Monday, Dec. 12, to bid farewell to his fellow PAB members.

Langley officials have not yet sought applications from citizens willing to be considered for the vacant position.

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