ALAMEDA -- Alameda's Superior Court Judge Delbert Gee did the honors Tuesday night, administering the oath of office to new Alameda City Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Tony Daysog and Stewart Chen.
"It's the most fun I've had all day," quipped the judge after the swearing-in, which took place before a standing-room-only audience.
City Manager John Russo said it was a special night in terms of peaceful transition.
"A night like tonight is like high mass," Russo said. "In all the arguments, it's easy to lose sight of the kernel of truth, that this council is here because you selected them."
Before the new members took their seats on the dais, Mayor Marie Gilmore read resolutions from the city, acknowledging the hard work of outgoing Council members Doug DeHaan and Beverly Johnson. The third departing councilmember, former Vice Mayor Robert Bonta, who was elected to the 18th Assembly District, was on vacation.
In a unanimous vote, the council elected Ashcraft as vice mayor.
"This is overwhelming," Ashcraft said. "Thank you all for coming out tonight. I'm humbled to serve Alameda for the next four years."
Ashcraft drew laughter from the crowd when she reflected on her campaign.
"Thanks for letting me come to your door, even when you had 'no soliciting' signs on your lawn," she said.
The new councilwoman said a special word of thanks to her mother in the audience.
"Tomorrow she turns 98 and her mind's as sharp as a tack," Ashcraft said.
She described Mayor Gilmore as "a fountain of information and knowledge."
"I think we have a great group here," Ashcraft said. "I'm looking forward to working for the city that we all love."
Chen congratulated Ashcraft and Daysog on their election and also thanked DeHaan and Johnson for their years of service. "Those are some tough shoes to fill," Chen said. "The campaign was not easy, but it was a great learning experience -- one that I won't mind doing again in four years."
Chen also acknowledged his mother, who brought him from Manila when he was 17 years old.
"She is a true inspiration in my life," said Chen, who also praised his wife.
Daysog, who previously served on the council from 1996-2006, expressed gratitude to the residents of Alameda for re-electing him. "You have, in essence, entrusted me with the keys to City Hall," Daysog said. "It's a humbling responsibility."
Daysog also thanked his mother and late father -- "who is with us tonight" -- his girlfriend, and other family members. "I also give a hearty thanks to Beverly (Johnson) and Doug (DeHaan), who gave so much for the betterment of Alameda," he said.
"We all have connections and stories, that's what makes Alameda such a special place," Daysog said. "I want to preserve that special quality of life ... it's great to be back."