Herald American

Norwalk honors Rodarte at last council meeting

NORWALK — The City Council June 21 honored colleague Marcel Rodarte at his last council meeting before he assumes the position of executive director of the California Contract Cities Association July 1.

But he won’t be too far away.

Rodarte announced that the association, made up of 84 cities, will move its headquarters from Downey to an office on Imperial Highway, east of Norwalk Boulevard and next to the Los Angeles County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Office.

“I wanted to be close by to keep an eye on you guys,” he told his colleagues.

The City Council will decide at its meeting July 5 on how to fill Rodarte’s vacant seat. The options are a special election, an appointment or leaving the seat open until the next municipal election in March.

“Let the people choose my successor,” Rodarte said.

Rodarte announced his resignation earlier this year and has been working in recent weeks with current director Sam Olivito on learning the intricacies of the job.

“I expect to have a lot more influence in the organization on issues affecting Norwalk and other cities,” Rodarte said.

“It’s not easy work,” said Vice Mayor Cheri Kelley, who noted that Norwalk officials have been president of the organization’s board five times, “more than any other city.”

Born and raised in Norwalk, Rodarte graduated from Norwalk High School in 1990, enlisted in the U.S. Navy, then the Air Force Reserves, retiring from military service in 2011.

“I ran for office only because I wanted to serve the city,” Rodarte said. “I always put the city first.”

“It was a pleasure working with Marcel,” Kelley said. “It didn’t take long to learn where his heart was.”

“He did a great job for the community,” Mayor Mike Mendez said. “He’s a hard worker. It will be hard to replace him.”

City Manager Mike Egan said that thanks to Rodarte’s enthusiasm, “we did more for the city than we thought we could.”

Rodarte received accolades from representatives of area elected officials and local organizations, but probably the most appreciated were from his family.

Daughter Eiliana, 10, expressed her love for her father while Rodarte’s mother, Lupe, said “it’s been an honor to be his mother.”

His father, John, summed it up quickly telling the audience “that’s my boy.”