By Mary O’KEEFE
After a decade serving on the Glendale City Council, this March Paula Devine will not be running to retain her seat.
“I just feel that the political climate is not to my liking,” she said.
Devine, like all of those on the Council, has faced criticism in the past for decisions or comments she made; however, she felt recently the criticism has taken more of a hateful turn and many times is filled with more personal attacks rather than factual disagreement.
Prior to being elected to Council she served for eight years on the City of Glendale – Commission on the Status of Women.
“I always felt that the role of the government is to make people’s life better … simplify, don’t complicate and [always] communicate and cooperate,” she said.
She added she had always lived by the philosophy of “We agree to disagree” when she had a different opinion from some of her constituents or other members of the Council.
“To me there has to be a certain synergy when you all work together and make a good decision,” she said.
During her time on the Council she has seen a lot of changes, many of which she initiated.
“I think the Grayson decision was huge,” she said.
The Grayson Repowering Project includes replacing aged, unreliable, ineffective and high-maintenance equipment, according to the Glendale Water and Power website.
She also included the biogas renewable project at Scholl Canyon as one of the many important issues that had been decided on during her tenure.
“Our goal of 100% reusable [energy] by 2035 is very important,” she said.
Those decisions will help the environment and help create cleaner energy, she said.
Other projects and events that Devine initiated added to the quality of life for those living in and visiting Glendale.
“I initiated the Cherry Blossom Festival,” she said.
The Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Celebration) in Brand Park has become very popular with locals as well as with people from other communities.
Devine also initiated a reward program for hit-and-run victims within the City.
“That is an important [program] that came from a person I met along the way who had lost his/her son to a hit-and-run. The [family member] said maybe if we had an award we would get the information we needed,” she said.
She is proud of the passing of the single-use plastics ban in Glendale and Shane’s Inspiration, the all inclusionary playground at Maple Park. Shane’s Inspiration is a California-based non-profit organization that creates accessible playgrounds.
Devine said her late husband, Art, used to keep a list of all the things she had initiated. He died in 2021. He was her biggest supporter.
“I am getting older and I have [been on Council] long enough at my time of life. I need to change my life and, of course since I lost my husband, things are different,” she said.
Devine has enjoyed her time on the Council and said she has really enjoyed meeting the people of Glendale at the many events she has attended.
“When you’re elected to Council you make the decision of how much you want to be out in the community, and the events you want to go to,” she said. “My philosophy is that is how I learn from the residents, when I am at these events. I enjoy that. That is the best part of Council, communicating with our residents and learning what their issues are.”
Prior to the weekly Glendale City Council meetings, she reads and researches what is on the agenda then makes decisions on what she thinks would help the community. Devine said she has never wanted to climb the political ladder; she simply wanted to serve those in her community. For some, that is a good reason for her to stay on Council, but Devine said it is time for her to move onto her next path.
When asked what advice she has for those looking to take her seat she said they should maintain their composure no matter what they face.
“You have to be thoughtful in what you say and what you do because every action causes a reaction,” she said. “Be sensitive to the feelings [of those who come to Council], understand why they are reacting the way they are … and you have to have thick skin.”
She said that it is important to support fellow councilmembers.
“Just maintain your dignity,” she added.
She said she has made a lot of good friends along the way.
“And I hope I have impacted [residents’] lives in a positive way,” she said.