The latest version of the Walnut Creek City Council was put in place Tuesday night, including two new members and a new mayor.
Newcomers Loella Haskew and Justin Wedel both won seats in November, as did incumbent Bob Simmons. All three were sworn in by City Clerk Suzie Martinez as spouses, family members and well-wishers looked on.
Simmons then took the floor and thanked city staff for their efforts during his year as mayor.
“It’s generally been a pretty good year for Walnut Creek,” Simmons said. “We started four years ago in a deep economic abyss. The opening of Neiman Marcus nine months ago signaled the start of our emerging from the deepest recession in the last 80 years. We now have a downtown vacancy ate of less than five percent.”
He also noted the approval of several multi-family home projects, which he said would provide housing for people who can’t afford a single-family home, older people who want to stay in Walnut Creek but don’t want the upkeep of a larger home, and those who want to live in an urban environment.
He also gave a nod to the second-hand smoke ordinance now in the works, and the installation of two floating islands at Heather Farm Park.
With that, Simmons called for the selection of a new mayor. Kristina Lawson nominated councilwoman Cindy Silva, Haskew seconded and the vote was unanimous, followed closely by the selection of Lawson as Mayor Pro Tem.
Silva said 2013 will be a “challenging but exciting year.”
She said one of the challenges will be providing “sustainable funding for quality of life programs, from open space to libraries, to arts programs and services for children and seniors.”
Planning will soon begin on the 2014 celebration of Walnut Creek’s 100 year anniversary, an effort which Lawson will lead.
When a new mayor is selected, they announce a year-long special initiative. Silva announced her special program for the year, the Second Saturday Spotlight, which will feature tours of “hidden city assets” on the second Saturday of each month. The first one, on Jan. 12, will be a behind-the-scenes tour of the Lincoln exhibit at the Walnut Creek Library. Other events will include a backstage tour of the Lesher Theater, a visit to the city’s corporation yard, and other rarely-traveled locales.