By Chris Hamm
How do we pay honor to a man who dedicated his life to the service of his community and country? Mayor Steve Swartz gave more in his life than most do in 10 lifetimes. He was a father, husband, war veteran, served in local nonprofits and, of course, served his city in a multitude of official capacities. Please join the City of San Clemente in honoring a true American by participating in Mayor Steve Swartz’s memorial service at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 30 at the end of the pier.
As we mourn the loss of our city’s leader, we must continue to move forward in his honor and continue in the business of running this great city. The best way we can honor Mayor Swartz’s legacy is to work together to make San Clemente a better place. Instead of focusing on issues that separate us, we should come together on the issues that unite us. As a community, we must stand strong to provide our community the best health care available with a hospital and emergency room in San Clemente, continue to fight the proposed toll road, join with other south county cities to find a solution for the growing homeless epidemic, and continue to support public safety.
When I was elected to this position seven years ago, I never imagined I would be required to write a column about the passing of a seated mayor. The passing of Mayor Swartz has been sudden and difficult for the entire city, council and staff. While all councilmembers were elected for different reasons and strengths, I believe we represent all of the residents of San Clemente. I want to pledge my commitment to this great city and to honor our fallen mayor by working with Kathy Ward, Dan Bane and Laura Ferguson to guide the city. Regardless of our differences, we have more that unites us than separates us. It is those unifying principles that we must rely on in the coming months to push the issues that all residents want to see resolved. To honor Mayor Swartz, we must treat each other with kindness and respect.
Prior to Mayor Swartz’s passing, he asked the residents to participate in the annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. I am happy to announce that San Clemente was victorious in that endeavor by collecting 2,700 signatures of people pledging to save 9 million gallons of water over the next calendar year. On behalf of the city and its residents, I would like to thank all who participated and helped to make Mayor Swartz’s request a reality.
Last week, the city council took its first action in the absence of Mayor Swartz. We had a successful meeting run by Mayor Pro Tem Dan Bane and were able to take initial steps in addressing homelessness in San Clemente. To bolster the partnerships the city and its nonprofit partners already have in place to address homelessness and its causes, the city council voted, 4-0, to establish an area for homeless camping to occur. The implementation of the vote was handled by our fantastic city management, staff, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and many other county and nonprofit agencies. On behalf of the residents of San Clemente, I would like to thank all involved for the execution of this plan. The division among us must end. With outside forces attempting to separate us, we must work together to protect the City of San Clemente from all who wish to destroy it. This was the first of many votes we must undertake as a community to make San Clemente a better place to live, work and play. In this way, we will honor our fallen mayor.
Chris Hamm is a San Clemente City Councilmember who served as mayor in 2015. He was re-elected to council in 2016.