WEST COVINA — Tuesday was James Toma’s last day as mayor of West Covina.
Toma, who was elected to the City Council in 2013, was selected by his fellow councilmembers for a one-year term as mayor and was sworn in by his father, Walter, in December 2015, accompanied by his wife, Minerva, and their children, Cruz and Paz.
“I have enjoyed being mayor and look forward to continuing to serve as a councilmember,” Toma said in a message to his constituents. “This year we have had a number of accomplishments, including the following:
“We hired new police officers, broke ground on our first soccer park at Orangewood, and made a number of capital improvements. We did this while balancing our budget and paying off millions of dollars of debt we inherited from prior councils.
“We created an all-inclusive playground at Cameron Park for kids with disabilities, dedicated our Veterans Memorial at City Hall, and with Measure H made possible the expansion of Queen of the Valley Hospital.
“We began addressing homelessness in our region, collaborating on a mental health unit, a temporary housing program, and funding winter shelters and other homeless services.
“We continued our water-saving efforts, reducing city water use as much as 50 percent, installing smart water meters and drought-tolerant plants throughout the city.
“We continued work on creating a new and vibrant Downtown West Covina.
“We added hundreds of new businesses (Porto’s coming in 2017!) and created a welcome information package for them.
“We increased social media communications to better inform stakeholders, conducted surveys to identify resident budget priorities, desired businesses, park priorities, and homeless information. We continue to work with service groups, conduct town hall meetings, and collaborate with neighborhood watch programs.
“Being mayor has given me the chance to meet new people and make new friends. So many people have shared their stories, their hopes, and their dreams. I love that … and I got to sing the West Covina song with Rachel Bloom from the television show ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.’
“Thank you for all your support and helping me work to better my city! I am truly grateful to have family and friends who care and support good government and public service.”
In a message to The Rafu, he added, “This year the City of West Covina again collaborated with the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center on our annual Cherry Blossom Festival as well as sending a city and youth delegation to our sister city, Ohtawara, Japan. This follows our very successful Special Olympics host town event last year in which we welcomed Team Japan to West Covina.”
Mayor Pro Tem Corey Warshaw succeeds Toma as mayor. Toma will be up for re-election to the council in 2017.