Bozajian gets new role with Contract Cities

James Bozajian

James Bozajian

As the new president of the California Contract Cities Association, Calabasas Mayor James Bozajian said he will advocate for open government and work to increase the bargaining power of smaller cities so they can continue to provide vital services in the face of budget shortfalls.

Bozajian was named president of the California Contract Cities Association at a convention in Indian Wells last month.

He’s the first representative from the Las Virgenes and Conejo Valley area to be named to the post.

Created in 1958, the association represents 67 of California’s 428 cities. It works to ensure that about 10 million constituents in the cities that contract with outside agencies for law enforcement and fire protection—among other things—get the best service for the lowest cost.

Through seminars, education and the exchange of ideas and information, the association tries to influence policies that affect its member cities. It advocates for local control, strives to protect local funds, opposes unfunded state mandates and deals with transportation and environmental issues affecting smaller jurisdictions.

Bozajian, who considers himself a populist and plainspoken leader, replaces La Cañada Flintridge Councilmember Laura Olhasso at the helm of the association. He will serve a one-year term.

Because government credibility has come under scrutiny throughout California, Bozajian said his main goal will be to advocate for the free flow of information between city hall and its citizens.

“I encourage citizens to become actively involved in municipal government,” he said.

The mayor said he recommended televising a recent budget workshop hosted by the Calabasas council so residents could observe the decisions made by the City Council regarding finances.

“This was the first televised budget workshop in the city’s history, conducted in that fashion at my insistence,” Bozajian said.

Since contract cities are usually smaller than independent cities that run their own operations, the smaller ones have been forced by the recession to cut back on the services they offer their citizens.

Contract cities must collaborate to maximize the services they provide to their constituents, said Bozajian, who hopes to expand the association’s membership and to increase its authority and bargaining ability.

“ I want to build stronger ties to other local municipal organizations. . . . I want to continue our legislative efforts by strengthening the excellent rapport we have established with government leaders in Sacramento and at the county level,” Bozajian said.

The mayor joined the California

Contract Cities Association board three years ago. He was vice president of the group last year and ran unopposed for the presidency.

Councilmember Jonathon Wolfson said Bozajian is a good fit for the post.

“James has worked for a long time within contract cities. He’s always been a big supporter of (the association),” Wolfson said.

“I think he will do a great job as the head of the association because he understands what it takes to have a successful contract city and how to best use the group of cities to promote the interests of all the contract cities,” Wolfson said.

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