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Yamaguchi Becomes Youngest Mayor in California

Placentia Mayor Jeremy Yamaguchi with City Councilmember Scott Nelson at a council meeting on Dec. 6.

PLACENTIA — Eagle Scout, California State University Fullerton student, and Placentia City Councilman Jeremy Yamaguchi was named as the mayor of Placentia on Dec. 6 at a Placentia City Council meeting.

The audience was filled with family, friends and supporters who welcomed the new mayor.

Yamaguchi is the youngest mayor in Orange County history and the youngest serving mayor in the state of California. At the age of 22, he has served as a City Council member for three years, a director for the Orange County Fire Authority, and the founding chairman for the Placentia Community Foundation.

“I look forward to continuing our work together as a team to preserve the quality of life for our community,” Yamaguchi said during his opening remarks.

He announced his three policy areas of focus — public safety, community sustainability, and economic development.

As Placentia’s youngest mayor, he shared three initiatives that he will be bringing to City Hall:

• Establish office hours for residents and visitors to come into City Hall, express concerns, and share ideas for the community.

• Set up the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, made up of youth leaders from throughout the community, to provide ideas and input on policy issues that impact or are of interest to that age group.

• Complete school-site visits with every school in the city by the end of his term as mayor.

Yamaguchi made his first public appearance as mayor at the Placentia Holiday Tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 7 at the annual Placentia Tamale Festival in the Old Town Placentia District.

In November 2008, Yamaguchi was elected to the City Council at the age of 19 for a term of four years. In a race with six candidates for three open seats, he received the highest total vote count, nearly 30 percent higher than the sitting mayor.

He holds an extensive background in community affairs and volunteer work with, among others, Placentia Neighborhood Watch, the Placentia Heritage Parade and Festival, the Placentia Cultural Arts Commission, the Placentia Chamber of Commerce, the Placentia Police Department, the Miss Placentia and Miss Yorba Linda Scholarship Pageants, and the Boy Scouts of America.

The Placentia Chamber of Commerce honored Yamaguchi as the Citizen of the Year in 2006 for his volunteer efforts in the community. He was the youngest person to earn that title. He also received the Presidential Gold Volunteer Service Award from a nomination by the Disneyland Resort. In 2009, Yamaguchi was honored by the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE) with the prestigious Rising Star Award.

Yamaguchi earned his Eagle Scout award in 2006 and was chosen in 2007 as the California Scout of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In 2008, he served as the lodge chief and a board member for the Boy Scouts of America Orange County Council. As lodge chief, he led Boy Scouts throughout the county to garner in excess of 20,000 community service hours.

In 2009, he served as the Southern California representative to the national Boy Scouts of America for the Order of the Arrow program. He continues to volunteer in the scouting program as an assistant scoutmaster for his troop in Placentia and as the associate lodge advisor to North Orange County for the Order of the Arrow program.

Yamaguchi graduated from Placentia’s El Dorado High School in 2007 with numerous honors and distinctions, including a historic record of 3,000 community service hours. He is currently a senior at California State University Fullerton majoring in political science with a minor in music. His last final is on Friday.

On campus, Yamaguchi is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, the CSUF pre-law society, Golden-Key, and the Phi Beta Delta honor society for international scholars.

He hopes to continue his education to obtain a master’s degree in public administration and a juris doctorate in order to study and practice law.

Yamaguchi currently serves on the Placentia Recycle Committee, Placentia Heritage Parade Committee, Placentia Community Foundation Board of Directors, Orange County Fire Authority Board of Directors, and California Republican Party Central Committee.

His personal motto: “I have pride in our past, faith in our future and a vision for a more stable and secure community.”

Placentia has a population of 50,000 and covers approximately seven square miles in north Orange County. For more information about the city, visit www.placentia.org.

Q&A with the Mayor

Yamaguchi responded to a few questions from the Rafu Shimpo via email on Tuesday.

Q: Has your age been a liability or an asset, or both, in your political career?

A: Age has made the job very exciting because of the attention I gain while fulfilling my duties. It was rather awkward to be networking with other elected in scenes where I was not old enough to drink.

Q: Have you been networking with other elected officials in their early 20s?

A: I network with all elected officials to share ideas and solutions to common problems. Some other young people I am friends with include three other very young mayors in Southern California — Steven Li, mayor of Rosemead; Ling Ling Chang, mayor of Diamond Bar; and Tim Shaw, mayor of La Habra. All of us have joined the ranks of mayors very early in our careers.

Q: Is it difficult to juggle your city work and your other activities?

A: Juggling school, city, scouting, and personal life is just like having a full-time job, a family, volunteering and hobbies. You can do everything if you plan ahead and manage time efficiently.

Q: You recently attended a gathering of Asian American Republican elected officials. What did you take away from that?

A: It is always great to gather with fellow Republicans and API leaders. The task force was led by Michelle Steel (of the Board of Equalization) and included API community leaders from throughout the state. Our hopes were to share ideas and solutions to better communicate with California’s Asian Pacific Islanders on the Republican Party’s values and goals for the future of California.

Q: What office will you run for next?

A: I plan to seek re-election to the City Council in November of 2012.

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