Outgoing Solana Beach Mayor Joe Kellejian honored for many years of service, accomplishments

Outgoing Solana Beach Mayor Joe Kellejian with his family: Lindsey, Mary and Kelli. Photo/Diane Welch

By Diane Y. Welch

Last Wednesday’s Solana Beach City Council’s Special Meeting coincided with 12-12-12. Not only was the date historic but so was the occasion. There was a festive feel to the meeting that was a celebration of both the swearing in of two new council members, Peter Zahn and David Zito, and incumbent, Lesa Heebner, and the acknowledgment of two outgoing council members, former Mayor Joe Kellejian and former Deputy Mayor David W. Roberts (see story at left).

Council chambers was packed wall-to-wall with community members lining up to show their gratitude and to say “goodbye” to Roberts, who is Third District County Supervisor Elect – having served for eight years on city council – and Kellejian, now retired after 20 years of service — five times as mayor. Before that he served four-and-a-half years on the Solana Beach crime commission and three-and-a-half years on the Solana Beach Town Council.

Under Kellejian’s watch the train station was built and grade separation was obtained to lower the train tracks. He helped shepherd the new commuter rail service in North County in 1995 and helped secure two-thirds of voter approval for Proposition A in 2004, which provided $14 billion in transportation funding until 2048. Other accomplishments include the smoking ban, sand replenishment, several construction projects, specifically the new city hall, pedestrian bridges that cross the train tracks, the joint-use library, the freeway interchange, the Coastal Rail Trail and more.

Kellejian told those present, “I’m proud to have been a part of this local and regional process for the last 20 years. Your support has been nothing but just fantastic.”

Nearly two dozen attendees made comments thanking Roberts and Kellejian for their tireless service. Dr. Ed Siegel, founder of the city’s Thursday night sing-a-longs, led the song “For They Are Jolly Good Fellows” and long-time resident Ruby Edman called for a standing ovation.

In closing Kellejian quoted author Albert Pine, “What we do for ourselves die with us, what we do for others remains and is immortal.”

The celebration did not end that evening. A surprise party was held for Kellejian at the Wild Note Café on Thursday evening (see photos from the event in a future issue). Organized by former Solana Beach Mayor Marion Dodson, and Louise Abbott, about 40 people were invited to further “roast” Kellejian. Dan Powell, emcee — who referred to Kellejian as Mayor Emeritus — invited attendees to the microphone to express their gratitude.

Marion Dodson, former mayor, said, “Joe has always been conscientious, attending functions outside of meetings and has been passionate about his role, especially for transportation.”

When funding was being sought for the grade separation Dodson asked Kellejian to accompany her to a meeting that secured the last $6.7 million required for the project. “I felt another elected official would help, and I was very thankful that Joe was there because we got the funding. That’s the kind of guy he is. Joe’s heart is always in the right place.”

Mary Kellejian, Steve Apple, Sean McLeod, Peter Zahn, Carolyn Cohen and Teri Renteria were among those who spoke. Attendees sang the official city song and Powell presented Kellejian with several hats to represent the varied roles that he has undertaken during his 28 years in service to the community. “This is a great day,” said Kellejian who conveyed heartfelt thanks to his wife Mary, and daughters, Kelli and Lindsey — who is expecting their first grandson. “This is the best day of my life!” joked Mary.

Kellejian will continue to serve on the board of the American Lung Association, and to support San Dieguito Alliance for a Drug Free Youth, Vista Community Clinic, Del Mar-Solana Beach Optimist Club, Del Sol Lions, and hopes to continue on the board of LOSSAN (Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo) Rail Corridor Agency, he said.