Meet the new mayor of South Pasadena

Story by Claire Mao
Staff Writer 

Photo by Shin-Hye (Rachel) Choi
Staff Photographer

Evelyn Zneimer is the first female Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) mayor of South Pasadena and is the first Jewish mayor since 1888. Zneimer has lived in South Pasadena since 1984 and has loved the community the entire time. 

“When I moved here, they had a Welcome Wagon. And a neighborhood brought all their bread baskets, cookies, baked goods…Wow. I felt so welcomed,” Zneimer said.

Zneimer went on to volunteer for civic organizations like SPEF and the Natural Resources Commission. Additionally, she became one of the board directors for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation.

Zneimer became a city clerk in November 2013 and was sworn in as council member on Dec. 1, 2020. Three years later, on Dec. 20, 2023, Zneimer was unanimously elected as mayor by the city council. 

“South Pas[adena] [is] actually acknowledging that diversity is here and it’s here to stay. It’s very heartwarming,” Zneimer said. “I came to South Pas[adena] because I wanted my kids to go through really good schools. And then I had three items: good schools, writing stabl[ility], and a golf course. And I found a city.”

Zneimer plans to implement new features to the community, add new safety policies, and diversify in South Pasadena in her 24 month term.

“I think we’re going to purchase a 500,000 [dollar] vehicle for the public works, this is actually a big truck that can be driven by one person, it will fill the potholes by itself,” Zneimer said. “It’s computerized inside. At the present time…you have to dig it out and you have to compress, and you have to heat the asphalt and you have to pour it. It’s tedious. But this is done by any machine. So it’s quite expensive, but it’s time saving, and it saves money for the personnel time. So it’s a big accomplishment to get that.”

She additionally hopes to install city-wide bicycle lanes, a project that has been in the works for 11 years. The project aims to improve community safety and prevent collisions. Environmental conditions have prompted the need for an update.

Zneimer has also served in the Los Angeles County Bar Association Armed Forces Committee (LACBA) aside from her involvement with the city council. She is not only a full time trial attorney for state and federal cases, but has also been a part time Los Angeles county pro tem, or temporary, judge for the California Supreme Court since 2006.

Zneimer has faced many challenges when it comes to implementing her goals and running for mayor. Zneimer has experienced discrimination and hopes to improve South Pasadena for everyone.

“When I took my oath, I directed city staff to draft a resolution, acknowledging that we were a sundown town, and that we now adopt diversity, equality, [and] inclusion,” Zneimer said. “I compromise on deals like contracts or even my cases but [with] standards like morality, I don’t.”

Zneimer emphasizes a focus on collaboration between the local government and its residents. She aims for overall fairness and teamwork.
“I want collaboration. It takes a village to complete a project. Collaboration within [the] local government and its residents is really important,” Zneimer said. “A project can only happen if it’s okay with the public because we are a service city, so we provide service to our residents.”

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