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Taj Takes Oath for Artesia City Council

Tony Lima Selected Mayor; Miguel Canales Mayor Pro-Tem

By Brian Hews

History was made in Artesia on Monday night when businessman Ali S. Taj took the official Oath of Office to become the newest elected official in the ever changing, ethnically diverse municipality.

Taj, 45, became the first Pakistani-American to become an elected official in California when Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey swore him into office before a standing room only crowd at the Albert O. Little Community Center.

Taj was elected by voters in early November along with incumbents Sally Zuniga Flowers and Victor Manalo.  All three of them stood side by side on the stage of the vintage community center as dozens of well-wishers captured photos and video of the event.

Lacey reminded Flowers, Taj and Manalo during the ceremony that they “have been entrusted by the people to follow the law and to never be above the law,” during her remarks.

It was the first time that a seated District Attorney of Los Angeles County had ever administered the oath of office to members of the Artesia City Council since the city was incorporated nearly six decades ago.

Taj thanked his many friends and family members who attended the ceremony.  “All of you gave me the necessary confidence to believe that I could be successful against what appeared to be insurmountable odds,” Taj said.

“America proves day after day that she is not only perfect in an ideological basis but also a practical one,” Taj said. “What I would not be able to accomplish in my native land (Pakistan), I was able to accomplish in the great nation.  The very fact that I can stand up here and speak to you today shows that the efforts of the great founders of the nation have not been wasted, and the voters of Artesia have proven it,” he stressed.

Taj also told those gathered that “this victory is not only mine, but also a victory for the great American values of diversity, equality, and democracy.  This is why I’m more proud to be an American today than ever before.”

Taj said that he wants to spend the next four years as a city councilman by “going back to basics.”

“Without the things like Public safety and infrastructure, such as well-paved road and sidewalks, a city cannot achieve its potential,” Taj said.  “That is why I would like to rebuild many of the worn out roads in northern Artesia, and improve street lighting.  All of the improvements require revenue, which I plan to generate by making Artesia a more small business friendly city and using sales tax to fund these projects,” he stressed.

Taj concluded his comments by saying: “I stand before you, I am extremely honored but more so truly humbled.”

“By knocking on every resident’s door multiple times, I have demonstrated to you that I have the passion, the determination, and the perseverance to make it happen for Artesia. Now that you have shown me your confidence, I will work even harder in order to make this city a better place,” the new councilman said,

Also joining Taj was Tasawar Khan who serves as the Consul General of Pakistan in Los Angeles.  “We are all very proud of Councilman Taj, and tonight is a night that history was made and I wanted to be a witness this and to join the community in this celebration,” Khan said.

Khan also told Hews Media Group-Community News that he believes that Taj is the only Pakistani-American to be an elected official in California, if not the “entire Western United States.”

The night also marked the end of the political career of longtime Artesia City Councilman John Lyon, who was defeated in the recent November 5th election.  Lyon was presented with more than a dozen special plaques, awards, and commendations from various elected officials who represent Artesia as well as community service groups and organizations.

Lyon thanked his many friends and family members in attendance.  “Tonight is bittersweet for me, but I will always be part of Artesia and Artesia will always be part of me,” he said.

Also during the annual transition, Mayor Pro-Tem Tony Lima was elected to serve as the new Mayor of Artesia and Miguel Canales was elevated to the position of Mayor-Pro Tem.

Lima said that he wants to focus the next year around the theme of “diversity” in Artesia.  “Artesia is now one of the most diverse cities in Los Angeles County and we need to celebrate what makes us such a special community,” Lima said.

Canales warmly welcomed Taj to the city council during his remarks, by extending a hand shake.  “The campaign is over, and I welcome you to the Artesia City Council and now it is time to get down to work for the entire community,” Canales said.

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