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Posted on: January 23, 2023

Laguna Hills certifies election results and selects Mayor Pro Tem Janine Heft as new mayor

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Laguna Hills City Council members elected in the November 8, 2022 general municipal election received their ceremonial oaths of office at the December 12, 2022 City Council meeting. At that meeting, the City Council also honored the service of retiring council member Don Sedgwick and appointed Janine Heft to the position of mayor. At the latest City Council meeting on January 10, 2023, the Council appointed Dave Wheeler to the position of mayor pro tempore.

The Laguna Hills general municipal election consisted of 4 candidates, including 2 incumbents, vying for 3 open full-term seats. Both incumbents Erica Piezold and Dave Wheeler were re-elected, and the last full-term seat went to first-time council member Joshua Sweeney. Appointed incumbent, Don Caskey, ran unopposed for 1 partial-term seat. There were a total number of 12,280 ballots cast in the election, representing a turnout rate of 61.3%. 

The Laguna Hills City Council selects a mayor and mayor pro tempore from the City’s five elected council members on an annual basis. After those newly elected were sworn in on Dec. 12, Councilwoman Peizold nominated Janine Heft to the office of mayor, and the motion passed unanimously. 

“I want to thank everyone for their confidence in me to continue my service to the City as mayor, as well as thank Dave for his contributions as mayor,” said Mayor Heft. “I am excited to bring new goals to the City in 2023—enhanced focus on fortifying our police presence to remove bad actors from our town, continuing community engagement opportunities like our annual Heritage Day, improving our communication systems, and maintaining the beauty we are known for in Laguna Hills.”

In her first action as mayor, Heft proposed a resolution of the City Council commending Dave Wheeler for his mayoral service, which was approved unanimously. The nomination for and election of a mayor pro tempore did not reach a conclusion at the December meeting, but Dave Wheeler was appointed to the role at the January 10, 2023 regular City Council meeting in a 3-2 vote.

Prior to the certification of the election results and ceremonial oaths of office on Dec. 12, the City recognized the services of retiring council member Don Sedgwick, who took his original oath of office in December 2014. In his two terms on City Council, Sedgwick worked diligently to improve the quality of life for Laguna Hills residents—being instrumental in the development of the business community, revitalization of recreational activity, and adoption of the Marine Battalion.

“We had to extend Don’s plaque a bit to account for all of the things he’s done for the City,” outgoing Mayor Dave Wheeler said in the December meeting. “We express our sincere appreciation and thanks to Don for his outstanding leadership, positive contributions to the climate of our community, and distinguished service to the City of Laguna Hills.”

A well-respected peer and mentor to the Laguna Hills Council, Sedgwick also served the community through the Saddleback Valley Unified School District and on the Orange County Fire Authority Board of Directors.

“It’s bittersweet, but I feel so confident in this group, with the addition of Josh Sweeney, to lead the City as a unified governing body,” Sedgwick responded. “It’s a new positive chapter for the City that’s going to take us to new levels–and it already has. I love this community and this City, so thank you for giving me the opportunity to represent it.”

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