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BELLFLOWER - Bellflower Councilman Randy Bomgaars resigned from the City Council on Tuesday and retired from his teaching position Wednesday, a move that will help him maximize pension benefits in retirement.
"One of the reasons I am retiring from both the City Council and school district at the same time is to make use of certain pension benefits afforded me and my family which would not be available unless I retire from both positions simultaneously," Bomgaars said. "While I regret leaving the council in the middle of my term, I feel I owe it to my family to take care of them the best I can."
Bomgaars, Bellflower's longest serving council member having been first elected in 1988, is slated to receive at least $84,827 from his annual pension.
For the past 40 years he has worked as a fifth grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary in Bellflower.
"It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to serve every citizen and business in this great community," Bomgaars said. "Despite my retirement, I will continue to promote Bellflower and its future growth and economic development."
According to state law, the City Council can either appoint a resident to Bomgaars' seat or call for a special election. Bomgaars' seat is not due for reelection until March 2015.
In either case, state law requires the City Council to act promptly. The remaining council members -- Mayor Dan Koops, Mayor Pro Tem Ray Dunton and councilmen Scott Larsen and Sonny Santa Ines -- will hold a public meeting to discuss their options before making any decision, city officials said.
The council can even reappoint Bomgaars to the position he just resigned from, a suggestion Bomgaars seemed to favor.
"It is my understanding the council has 60 days from my retirement date to decide about filling my vacancy," Bomgaars said. "According to PERS regulations, I could be appointed to serve a portion of all my remaining term, or a portion of it. I would be able to collect council salary but not, and I repeat not, my PERS retirement during that time. If this is seen as a political imposition, I understand the council not considering this option. I love public service. My second love is serving as a city councilmember in our great city."
Mayor Koops said he was "saddened" to see Bomgaars resign his post.
For the past 22 years, he has been an outstanding advocate in our community; he has served on many boards and has been active with several civic organizations both at the local and state levels," Koops said. "In his teaching career, he has been a terrific mentor to the thousands of children he has taught over the years and a positive role model to all that know him. He has served our great City of Bellflower with the utmost professionalism, dedication and solid leadership for many years."
City manager Jeff Stewart praised Bomgaars for his leadership on multiple city projects, including the downtown area, 2.5-mile walking path along the MTA corridor, train depot, Pirate Park, and the soon-to-be completed $7 million Belmont Court mixed-use development.
"He has always been a tremendous supporter of our community and an integral part of our leadership team," Stewart said. "We will all miss his leadership."
According to Bomgaars, his resignation and retirement had everything to do with pension benefits and nothing to do with his personal health.
"I have had an extremely rewarding teaching career for the past 40 years and a strong City Council career over the last 22 years. However, I now have the opportunity to retire this month from all public service which will allow me the chance to travel, enjoy life a bit more, and spend more time with my family and four beautiful grandchildren," he said. "I want to assure everyone I am not resigning due to any health problem. Although I underwent some surgery last year, I am presently in good health.
"I want to thank the people of Bellflower for the extraordinary trust and confidence they have given me during my time on the City Council," he added. "I also want to thank my council colleagues, past and present, for their friendship and support. Bellflower is a great community of outstanding people, civic-minded community groups, and a talented and dedicated city staff.
"God Bless Bellflower and God Bless the United States of America."
Bomgaars was born in Sheldon, Iowa and his family moved to Bellflower when he was a young boy. He graduated from Valley Christian High School and then went on to receive an associate's degree from Cerritos College, a bachelor of arts degree from Cal State Long Beach and a master's degree from Pepperdine University in 1979.
He is married to his wife Jennie and they have three children and four grandchildren.
He is currently a member of the executive board of the California Contract Cities Association, a delegate with the League of California Cities and a long time delegate of the Sister Cities organization with Los Mochis, Mexico.
Published: June 21, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 10