WALNUT CREEK -- Newly elected council members Loella Haskew and Justin Wedel were sworn in at the standing room only City Council meeting Tuesday where Councilwoman Cindy Silva was unanimously selected mayor and Councilwoman Kristina Lawson will serve a Mayor Pro Tem in 2013.
Wedel said he is looking forward to a brighter future for Walnut Creek, and Haskew thanked supporters, saying that she looks forward to doing her best in her new role.
Former Mayor Bob Simmons described the meeting as "mostly ceremonial." Other than certifying the election, the only business was consent calendar approval of two planning and zoning code amendments and public comment regarding Walnut Creek Sister City International.
Simmons, who was re-elected Nov. 6, took the oath of office and reviewed council accomplishments during his term that began when the council faced "a deep economic abyss."
Simmons' list included approval of the Walnut Creek Transit Village, the reappearance of a light industrial use tenant in the Shadelands Business Park, and approval of more multifamily housing developments, such as the new Habitat for Humanity Pleasant Creek project.
Simmons made a point of acknowledging his predecessors, including former mayors Gail Murray, Gwen Regalia, Kathy Hicks, Sue Rainey and Charlie Abrams, who were all in attendance.
Former Mayor Pro Tem Kish Rajan received abundant praise for his service and bid the council farewell. He said it was difficult to give up the benefits of Walnut Creek for Sacramento, and prompted laughter when he jokingly mentioned that relinquishing his parking permit was among them.
Rajan had been a candidate for re-election and was slated to be the next mayor until Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him as director of GO-Biz, the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development.
When former Councilman Gary Skrel chose not to run for re-election, Lawson was next in line to serve as mayor, but she chose to defer to Silva.
Silva recalled Skrel's positive, "bullish on our community" attitude and reiterated accomplishments such as the acquisition of Acalanes Ridge as open space, and opening of the new Walnut Creek Library to encourage the council to continue his "yes" approach.
Silva noted the city is still coming out of the "great recession" and her primary goal is its fiscal health.
"A key element ... will be to determine how to provide sustainable funding for the many quality-of-life services and programs that are a hallmark of Walnut Creek," she said.
The new mayor noted that Walnut Creek's centennial anniversary celebration is coming up in 2013 and said Lawson would lead that effort.
Silva also invited the public to join her on the second Saturday of each month, beginning in January, for a behind-the-scenes exploration of the city called Spotlight on Walnut Creek.
"Walnut Creek has a treasure of assets just waiting to be discovered. And that is exactly what we will do together," she said.
The Open Space Foundation's restoration of the Oak Habitat, a tour of the downtown library (including a private viewing of the Lincoln exhibit) and an exploration of the inner workings of the city's corporation yard are among destinations Silva intends to share with the public.
The council members acknowledge that "fiscal sustainability" is their primary challenge in coming months.
After the meeting, one council member compared it to a happy wedding, replete with oaths, compliments and testimonials witnessed by family, friends, and supporters, and followed by a catered reception at the Walnut Creek Library.
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