Perspective on public service

A former La Mirada City Councilman and Biola alum offers perspective on his 16 years serving on council and as mayor.

Steve Jones, Writer

For the past sixteen years I have had the honor and privilege of serving on the La Mirada city council. During my tenure I have served as mayor three times.

La Mirada is a great city and has served its residents well over the 55 years of its incorporation.

One of the primary reasons for the success of La Mirada is having Biola University as part of the city. Starting with former Biola president Sam Sutherland serving on the first planning commission, several individuals from Biola have been involved with the city of La Mirada. This list includes former political science professor Dave Peters who was a six-term council member. I take pride in being a part of the Biola family that has been involved the the city.

I graduated from Biola College in 1970 with a degree in history and a teaching credential. That, obviously, prepared me for my teaching career at La Mirada High School. But it also, though I did not know it at the time, prepared me for my years in municipal government.

During my time on the city council, several cities in Southern California went through significant scandals that hurt their ability to govern and betrayed the trust their residents put in them. Almost all of these situations came down to a deficiency in morals and ethics. I wish some of these city officials had gone to Biola. The education I received at Biola prepared me well for public service because it is an education that taught me to be a servant.

One of the best lessons we can learn is to get beyond ourselves and serve others. This is an attitude that if implemented with action could solve many of the problems facing municipalities and other levels of government.

In La Mirada we have gone by the basic concept that we serve to achieve the general good for the city. It is best if we have no personal agendas. It is also important for effective government that the participants know their role. A council member’s role is making policy and giving direction. If they get out of their role and interfere with the staff’s role of the implementation of policy and direction, then problems result. A team functions best when everyone knows their role and stays within that role.

The strong Christian based education I received at Biola helped to form in me these basic principles of governing. I have very much benefited from my relationship with

Biola, and I believe the relationship between Biola and the city of La Mirada has been positive and mutually beneficial. That is not always the case with cities and universities.

We have been very fortunate to have that relationship here and the city of La Mirada is very fortunate to have Biola in their midst. Go Eagles!

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