Art Bennett was selected by his colleagues on the Chino Hills City Council as mayor for the year 2020 and he’s as giddy as a kid.
“I’m loving it,” he said. “I’m every bit as excited now as I was the first time as mayor.”
He was mayor in 2012 and 2016, and has been on the city council since 2008.
Mr. Bennett is breaking out his shirts and jacket with the mayor logo and wearing them around town, including a senior luncheon hosted by the Chino Valley Fire Foundation at the Chino Hills Community Center Wednesday afternoon.
The mayorship in Chino Hills is not an elected position as in some cities such as Chino, but rotated annually. Mr. Bennett was next in line to become mayor because he was vice mayor this year.
He was selected at the Nov. 26 meeting, replacing Cynthia Moran.
Councilman Brian Johsz was selected vice mayor.
Mr. Bennett lives in District 3 but holds an at-large seat until November 2020.
District 3 is generally south of Eucalyptus Avenue, north of Valle Vista Drive, west of Pipeline, and extending east and south to include the Village Oaks neighborhood, where he resides.
Mayor Bennett said his primary goal is to fix the landscape and lighting issue by engaging the community to develop a plan to address the subsidy.
The city is expected to spend $1.2 million from the general fund to subsidize the lighting and landscape district.
Next fiscal year, the amount will rise to $1.6 million and in fiscal year 2021-22, the amount is projected to be just over $2 million.
When California voters approved Prop. 218 in 1996, the city could no longer increase fees to keep up with rising landscape costs without a mail-in ballot vote.
Approximately 54 percent of residents pay for lighting and landscape maintenance, while 46 percent do not, according to a 2015 city report.
“We’ve had a lot of discussion but we haven’t had any workshops,” said the mayor. “The next logical step is to take public input, address the inequity in the district, and make a decision. My goal is to move the meter on it this year—I’d love to get it done.”
Secondly, he would like to see more high-quality businesses in the city’s commercial centers. “Chino Hills is a desirable place,” he said. “We should strive for as close to 100 percent occupancy as we can realistically achieve in our shopping centers, with a special focus on filling our vacant big box stores.”
Third, he wants to continue improving communication with residents through the press and social media so they feel more engaged and know their concerns will be addressed.
Mr. Bennett, a Vietnam veteran, enjoys spending quality time with his family including his wife Nickie, children, and grandchildren, and interacting with the veterans community.
After retiring from the property tax profession in 2016, he returned to the workforce in October as a west coast regional sales coordinator for a tax consulting firm where he works in West Covina three days a week with flexible hours.
“I’m going to take 45 years of experience and use it grow this practice and teach the younger guys in the business,” he said.
Prior to serving on the city council, he was on the city’s General Plan Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission.