Mayor Spencer Robinson

Mayor Spencer Robinson, right, and Studebaker Sales Manager Bob Conover, left, in front of the Studebaker dealership in 1924. (Photo courtesy Glendale Public Library Special Collections) (December 14, 2012)

This year marks the 90th year since Glendale adopted a city charter and elected Spencer Robinson as the first mayor. Before that, Glendale had been governed by a board of trustees which had been in place since incorporation in 1906.

The idea of a city charter had been debated for some time, but it was not proposed until 1920, according to Carroll W. Parcher, writing in Glendale Area History.

Voters put the charter in place in March, 1921 with very little opposition. And that June another election was held — this one to select the first city council.

Those elected as the first council members were S.A. Davis, C. E. Kimlin, A. H. Lapham, Robinson and D. W. Stephenson. J.C. Sherer was elected city clerk and J.W. Stauffacher treasurer.

Robinson, a relative newcomer to Glendale, had been in the city since 1906. He and his family lived in the Windsor Road area and he dealt in real estate. Robinson was an outgoing man with a great singing voice and he had, in fact, performed in many concerts in his younger years. He no longer sang professionally, but he shared his talent freely and often performed at benefits and other events around town.

In 1919, Robinson was elected to the board of trustees. He supported the city’s move to a charter system and received the most votes of all the council candidates.

The five council members took the oath of office at city hall. One of their first actions was to select Robinson as mayor.

Here’s the way a Glendale Evening News writer described it on July 6, 1921. “The Board of Trustees met for a final time, voted in a resolution to clean off vacant lots in the city and then moved for adjournment. The books of the Board of City Trustees were thus closed and a new page was turned for the recording of the minutes of the City Council about to be brought into official being.”

While this was going on, a small audience had assembled to witness the inauguration of the new council, as noted by the Glendale Daily News, also on July 6. “Every councilman avoided the seat of the chairman and Councilman Robinson, who came last, found the chair to which he has grown accustomed occupied by another. His confreres grinned as he sought another outside the charmed circle around the table and they also guyed him about his new and becoming clothes. When all were seated and council had come to order at the call of Clerk Sherer.

“Councilman Stephenson made a brief speech declaring that the electors had expressed in no uncertain terms, by their votes, their desire and therefore he wished to nominate as first mayor, Spencer Robinson.

“Lapham seconded to cheers and applause from the audience and thus Robinson moved to the chair at the head of table with manifest pleasure but modestly he accepted the honor.”

Robinson served as mayor for two years and was on the council for three terms.

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The article on Lucy Yarick (October 19, 2011) struck a chord with Margaret Hammond, a member of the Committee for a Clean & Beautiful Glendale. “We still use the burro logo that Lucy designed when she was chairing the inaugural Beautification Week in 1968. It is one of the components of our annual poster contest.”

The “I Love My Neighborhood” Poster Contest was developed in 1993 to educate students and their families about civic responsibility and neighborhood pride, according to the City of Glendale’s website.