Laguna Beach City Council Swears in New Members

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Rounaghi, Orgill take seats at the dais, Whalen becomes mayor

Sue Kempf and Bob Whalen switch roles during the Dec. 13 council meeting, making Whalen the new mayor of Laguna Beach for the fifth time and Kempf the mayor pro tem moving forward. Photo/Clara Beard

Laguna Beach City Council saw Alex Rounaghi and Mark Orgill take the dais as its newest Councilmembers during its regular meeting Dec. 13. Rounaghi and Orgill will replace Peter Blake and Toni Iseman.

Reelected incumbent Sue Kempf will now serve as mayor pro tem, and Bob Whalen will again take up the mayoral position, his fifth time serving as Laguna Beach’s mayor during his 10-year stint on City Council.

“I am looking forward to working with this council over the next 12 months,” Whalen said. “elections always provide a fresh start and new opportunities. In the last month I’ve heard in the community, really nothing but optimism. I believe we have a great opportunity to work together in a collaborative manner and move the City forward.”

From left to right: Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley presents certificates to Councilmember Alex Rounaghi, Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf and Councilmember Mark Orgill during the Dec. 13 Laguna Beach City Council meeting. Photo/Clara Beard

Whalen said he was optimistic about the year ahead for several reasons.

“First, a good council,” he said. “I think we’ve got a lot to offer. Second, we have a strong management team here at the City. In my view, the City Manager has done a great job creating an environment where City employees are heard and motivated to work hard. And the results in 2022 reflect that. She helped us to a very productive year. We acquired St. Catharines, we acquired a new fire station, we acquired the library, and we took over the South Laguna beaches. That’s a lot to do. We also launched the new ambulance service. It was really quite a productive year.”

Orgill took the time to thank his family and friends who helped with the campaign. He acknowledged it was impossible to make everyone happy but expects a positive year ahead.

“This is truly an honor and a privilege that I’ve been elected to serve on the council,” Orgill said. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am, truly grateful, that this community has allowed me to take this position. I’ve been talking to many people after the election, strolling around town, and meeting with as many folks as possible. I have the sense that the community is excited about 2023 and looking forward to all the opportunities we have going forward. It’s been nice to see the enthusiasm. This is going to be a great Council, and I look forward to serving with Bob, Sue, Alex and George. We have a lot of tough decisions to make, and as we move through them, I hope we have your patience to get the City running as efficiently as we can.”

Whalen then acknowledged 25-year-old Alex Rounaghi, the youngest person to ever serve on Laguna Beach City Council.

“We’re really excited that you are joining us and bringing a different perspective to the City Council,” Whalen said.

Rounaghi thanked those who supported him during the four-month campaign, along with his family and friends.

“I’m just so humbled by the people who knocked on doors, posted yard signs, wrote postcards, and hosted meet and greets,” Rounaghi said. “I can’t thank you enough. I also want to congratulate my colleagues up here. I look forward to working with the entire council. I think there are a lot of opportunities where we can move this community forward. I’m grateful that my grandfather came to Laguna Beach in the 1970s to pursue art. I feel lucky to have grown up here and have great teachers starting with Ms. Heidi’s preschool in South Laguna, to El Morro to Laguna Beach High School.

“As I sit on the dias, I can’t help but think about all the legends who preceded me, especially as we approach our 100th anniversary as a City. There have been so many great Councilmembers and members of the community that have created this unique place that we’re able to call home. We’re standing on the shoulders of giants, and I look forward to embracing that legacy.”

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