Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith left his district’s seat Friday for a second time, soon to be replaced by Councilman-Elect John Lee.
Smith was appointed to the Council District 12 seat in January after former City Councilman Mitch Englander resigned last fall to join a sports and entertainment company.
“I think it was appropriate to let you know that you will be missed. It’s been an honor to serve with you twice,” Council President Herb Wesson told Smith. “And somewhere, someone is going to write a crazy little history book and there’s going to be a footnote that there was one crazy guy who left and came back and got out unscathed.”
Smith said he was appreciative of the compliments from fellow council members, but he quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his farewell speech.
“Thank god, I’m free at last,” he said. “It has been an honor to work with all of you. We did a lot of good things and took care of a lot of business.”
Although the Los Angeles City Council is a non-partisan body, elected officials typically are backed by their respective parties during elections, and they legislate closely along those lines. Smith was the lone Republican on the council, as is his successor, Lee.
Smith said he’s taking a two-and-a-half-month vacation across the country with his wife before returning to work as a reserve police officer. The outgoing councilman said he came back to City Hall on Jan. 15 with the same sense of amazement for local government he had when he first arrived about 40 years ago to work a deputy staff member.
Smith’s appointment was the first time since the 1960s that the City Council voted to install a full voting member until the results of a special election were final, according to his district’s website.
Wesson also said some people may have been concerned about filling the role temporarily without an election, but that the decision to appoint Smith was embraced by the west San Fernando Valley residents he represented.
“To have a community to come together and say `yes’ without a formal election … has to be a great honor to you,” Wesson said. “You have been such an asset to this house, a stabilizing voice of reason, knowledge and experience.”
Smith had the opportunity to run for another term but chose not to. He first represented the San Fernando Valley district from 2003 to 2011.
City Councilwoman Nury Martinez said she hadn’t had the chance to work with Smith much but that he was a “true gentleman.”
Lee will be sworn in sometime next week.
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