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Bellflower council appoints Hamada to fill vacant seat

BELLFLOWER — Raymond Y. Hamada, 62, a life-long resident and a retired city planner, will be installed Dec. 10 to a City Council term ending in November 2020. It will come during the city’s annual council reorganization, which begins at 7 p.m.

Hamada served on the Bellflower Planning Commission and worked in the planning department of four cities — Downey, Rolling Hills, Monterey Park and Irwindale, where he was planning director.

He retired in 2011 after 30 years of government service, which began as a public works maintenance worker and recreation leader in Paramount. He also was an assistant special education instructor in the Paramount Unified School District.

He was selected by the City Council Nov. 26 to replace the late Ron Schnablegger and represent District 1, across the northern part of the city. Schnablegger died Oct. 30 after a long illness.

Hamada was one of nine residents of District 1 who submitted applications by Nov. 20. Those applications were reviewed the past week by a sub-committee consisting of Mayor Ray Dunton and Mayor Pro Tem Sonny Santa Ines. Their recommendation was supported by council members Juan Garza and Dan Koops.

“We really struggled [to make a selection],” Santa Ines said. “We looked for someone who was committed to the community like Ron, who was active in the city, had [municipal] experience and could relate to residents.

Besides his work experience Hamada was active in the Lions, Rotary and Eastside Optimist clubs in Monterey Park. He is a past president of the Bellflower Kiwanis Club, served as lieutenant governor of the regional Kiwanis Division 13, and served as advisor to the Kiwanis Key Clubs at Bellflower and Somerset high schools, Bellflower Middle School and Kiwanis Circle K advisor to Cerritos College.

A graduate of Bellflower High School, Hamada graduated from UCLA in 1979 and did post graduate studies at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

He and his wife, Susan, have been married 36 years. They have three children: Jason, Heather and Amy; and two grandchildren, Hunter and Jace.

Hamada did not comment after his appointment Nov. 26, but on his application he pledged to “work as a team” with fellow council members and said his municipal experience with budgets would be helpful.

A member of his Neighborhood Watch, Hamada said: “I am passionate about crime reduction and uniting our community.” He also promised to continue his community work in honor of Schnablegger.

“Lastly, I want to share that though my battle with cancer when I prayed for healing, I reiterated my vow to live a life of service. The opportunity to serve on the Bellflower City Council seems very much like God taking me up on my promise,” he said in his application.

Other applicants were USC public safety officer Aaron K. Drake and business owner John Paul Drayer, both former candidates; and property manager George Franzen.

Also C. J. (Charlene) Nord, Ronny North, Joseph Schnablegger, son of the late councilman; Cheryl Williams and Michele Worley.

“This has been an historic night in Bellflower. We were concerned we wouldn’t get any applicants, but nine qualified people who would be a benefit to the city came forth,” Koops said.

By Arnold Adler

Contributing Writer