It was bittersweet goodbyes for Jon Primuth at last week’s school board meeting.
This year’s election will send him to the City Council, where he will represent District 3 starting in December following the retirement of Dr. Richard Schneider from politics. Primuth will cede his seat on the South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education to Patricia Martinez-Miller, who previously served there from 1989-2001.
To hear it from Primuth, it won’t be too different of a job since he will remain in South Pasadena’s tight-knit community.
“It really is amazing to live in a community where there’s both tension and consensus,” he said at last week’s regular meeting, “where there’s a constant flow of information, where there’s a constant tussle of facts, feelings, stakeholders and trying to do that in the context of a public meeting.”
Primuth served one term on the school board and was eyeing pursuit of re-election there until Schneider announced his decision to step away this year. Primuth, an attorney, aims to lend his expertise and personality to solving key city issues that include stabilizing administrative operations, threading a needle for housing development and cushioning the city’s tumble on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
That governing style seems to be among what his peers on the school board will miss the most.
“You’ve just been such a smart, thoughtful board member,” board President Michele Kipke said. “You have this incredible analytic, data-driven mind. You’re thoughtful. You look at all the angles but then are decisive, which is really important as a leadership quality.
“The city needs that leadership,” she added, “and in that respect, we’re happy to share you with the city.”
Board member Suzie Abajian, who joined the board alongside Primuth and recently cruised to an easy re-election, said she will miss the thoughtfulness that she’s appreciated this past term.
“I know we don’t agree on everything all the time,” she said, “but I really do feel respected by you and feel you’re a great colleague. You work collaboratively and you listen.”
Added board member Zahir Robb: “Our loss is the city’s gain, and I think we’ll all benefit from it. I think your strength is bringing balance to this team. We all have different perspectives and different views. I think a lot happens in closed session that isn’t always seen. I appreciate your analytical thoughts and your real logical and calm approach to every topic.”
Superintendent Geoff Yantz highlighted that although Primuth won’t be on the district dais any longer, he anticipated continuing to work with him to advance the city.
“Anything you do, you are all in and so thoughtful and caring and I just appreciate your leadership and your friendship over the last seven years,” Yantz said. “I do look forward to working with you in the future over at the City Council. Hopefully, you can get on that school liaison team and we can continue to have those monthly meetings.”