The swearing-in ceremony of Katy Young Yaroslavsky as the City Council member representing the Los Angeles’ fifth council district felt like it could have been in any small town. Yaroslavsky was joined on the stage by her father-in-law, Zev Yaroslavsky (who served in the seat from 1975- 1995 and then served as an LA County Supervisor until 2014), her husband, Judge David Yaroslavsky, who administered the oath of office, her three children, who took turns at various times during the one-hour ceremony going on and off the stage, and her invited guests.
The Pan Pacific Auditorium/basketball court provided the down-home setting for the ceremony when rain forced the event indoors. Local Boy Scouts served as the color guard, bringing in the flags, with the most adorable young Girl Scout leading the Pledge of Allegiance, to the delight of the several hundred people in attendance.
Congressmember-elect Sydney Kamlager served as emcee. Windsor Square resident and environmental giant Mary Nichols joined Zev Yaroslavsky in giving remarks, along with Rabbi Adam Kligfeld, who offered the benediction. The Hamilton High School Jazz Combo performed, along with Alicia and Esther Kim, from Larchmont Charter High School, performing a traditional Korean song on a traditional instrument known as the Gayageum.
In her remarks to set the stage for the event, Congressmember-elect Sydney Kamlager said the ceremony was an opportunity for the community to embrace Councilmember Yaroslavsky as she takes office and to let her know the community “has her back.” She described Yaroslavsky as a person, as well as a public official, who has a big job ahead of her. And “when she’s successful, we are all successful,” said Kamlager. She drew applause from the crowd when she noted that as a woman, Yaroslavsky, like many women public officials, shoulders far more responsibility than their male counterparts.
Mary Nichols said she was thrilled to be part of the welcoming ceremony for Yaroslavsky and loved seeing her on the stage with her young family. Though never elected to office, Nichols said she had the honor of being appointed to serve on boards where she took an oath and recalled how the “old guard, mostly men” would look at her with skepticism.
“They were wondering how this new generation coming in could possibly get anything done when they still had little kids,” said Nichols.
Thrilled to see this next generation taking over, Nichols said she was confident that Yaroslavsky would be a good steward of the land and the environment. She presented her with “Preserving Los Angeles,” the book by Ken Bernstein celebrating Los Angeles’s historic buildings and neighborhoods, many in the Fifth District.
Next, Zev Yaroslavsky described his daughter-in-law as a policy wonk more than she is a politician.
“She’s in her element now. She’s a a collaborative consensus builder who lives by the old adage that there’s no limit to what one can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit,” said Yaroslavsky. “She knows how to get disparate stakeholders to yes, and she also knows how to say no. When she enters the maelstrom which is today’s city council, her mature, ethical, and compassionate approach to problem solving will be a welcome addition.”
Following his remarks, Zev Yaroslavsky introduced his son, David, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, who donned his robes and administered the oath of office to his wife, Katy.
In her comments, after being sworn in, Katy Yaroslavsky said she is ready to get going. Explaining, she told the story of chatting with a woman in traffic, who stopped to say how excited she was about Yaroslavsky’s election. Still talking when the light turned green, her son shouted from the back seat, “mom, the light turned green, get going!”
Through the long campaign, Yaroslavsky said she met people who shared her belief that things in the city could get better.
“They have to get better,” she said. “And the way to make things better is to elect people who are prepared to do the big hard work. People want to see government responding with urgency, compassion and intelligence.” She said she sensed an upswell of optimism, like that woman in traffic, who said she was allowing herself to be optimistic for the first time in a long time.
“We have a new mayor, the first woman. Mayor Bass will be sworn in this afternoon and I’m so excited to join her,” said Yaroslavsky. “And one-third of the city council is new. We have more women on the city council, six out of fifteen, more than at any point in our city’s history, going all the way back to 1781. We are full of energy and ideas. We have different perspectives, and we all have a sense of urgency to get going, to be bold and smart and focused. Everywhere I look, I see hope and opportunity.”
In closing, Yaroslavsky thanked everyone who helped get her elected, including her volunteers, her staff and her family, especially her husband David, who made it possible to run…and her mom, Laura Plotkin, whom she said modeled what it was like to be in public service.
Yaroslavsky explained she was drawn to local government because it plays an enormous role in everyday life.
“It is both an incredible opportunity and responsibility,” said Yaroslavsky. “Every morning I wake up and imagine the Los Angeles I want to see. I invite you to join me. Let’s imagine the LA we want, and let’s go build it.”
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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