Most people don't get that excited about sewers, but newly-installed Hermosa Beach Mayor Jeff Duclos seems pretty jazzed about taking on the city's sewers and other infrastructure issues.
"The thing that can't be underestimated is that we're free to do that as a city without that cloud of litigation," Duclos said.
He is the first mayor in the over 14 years since the Macpherson Oil Company brought suit against the city over oil drilling to be able to tackle basic issues of paving streets without wondering what the city's liability would be.
"We've operated for 14 or more years where every decision was affected," he said. "It's hard for people to know how that's permeated everything we do as a city."
That doesn't mean there aren't other issues as important. At the top of the list, Duclos said, is the appointment of two key city positions, that of a new city manager to replace recently retired Steve Burrell, and a new permanent police chief.
"Those are arguably the two most important staff position," Duclos said.
There are also contracts with the rest of the city staff to negotiate, and sewers and street repaving, which Duclos agrees aren't the sexiest topics around, but they are important to keeping property values high in Hermosa Beach.
Then there is the continuing issue of oil drilling in the city maintenance yard, which will be put before the city as a ballot measure. While Duclos is concerned that the issue could become divisive, he believes that if residents look at all the facts and avoid approaching the issue from an emotional point of view, all will be well.
"I'm ultimately confident that the residents of Hermosa Beach are going to make the best decision for the city," he said.
And that may not be in favor of drilling.
"There’s an assumption it that the city favors drilling and that’s not necessarily a correct assumption," Duclos said. "The only thing city has agreed to is to put the issue before the public. The public will decide, and if the public agrees that this is not in the best interst of the city then it will not proceed."
As for being mayor, Duclos is still getting used to it.
"When you're elected [to the city council], you know that part of the deal is that at some point you're going to be mayor and your role will change a bit," he said. "And it's not just to govern the meetings and make sure they're as orderly as possible. You have the symbolic role as the leader of your community and all that entails."
Duclos said that so far, it has meant being addressed as Mr. Mayor as he walks down the street.
"Your friends, they always do it with a smile," he said. "It's finally going to take some getting used to, but I have to admit, I like it."