Last night the victors in the November election were sworn in to officially take their seats on the City Council. With the passage of Measures D and E to go to even year elections, the next election won't be held until 2016. So Mayor Clarkson was reelected for the next three years and Councilman Dave Hudson for the next five years. Newly elected Councilman Harry Sachs will also serve five years.
The City holds the Swearing-in event at the Community Center, and while it is a public City Council meeting, supporters of the candidates are invited to a reception after the Council meeting. In past years I received an invitation in the mail. This year either I wasn't on the list or the invitation is buried in my pile of holiday mail. So Councilman Dave Hudson delivered an invitation to me in person.
All three of the candidates I endorsed were victors but I wanted to go for another reason, to see another Victor. Two years ago, at the swearing in of Councilman Phil O'Loane and Mayor Bill Clarkson, Victor Petersen asked if I was still writing my San Ramon Observer. I was disappointed that Victor wasn't still reading it. So this time I wore my "Read the San Ramon Observer in the San Ramon Express" T-shirt and I just ordered more shirts, which are available at cost for anyone who wants one.
I was planning to look for Victor Petersen when I got there, but he came over to me first. Victor came to tell me he just retired and is staring a handyman business. I really needed that last year, when handymen were quitting on me in the middle of jobs or changing the dates they could come. It is so hard to find a good, reliable, honest handyperson. My neighbor, Luigi, has been helping me out, but I will definitely call Victor when I need more work done and Luigi isn't available.
In 2002 when I started my original San Ramon Observer online "newspaper " Victor Petersen kept me honest. I had political reasons for starting The Observer, but I also wanted to report local news that we didn't get enough of in the Contra Costa Times or even the San Ramon Valley Times, which tended to just repeat a lot of what was in the CC Times. My San Ramon Observer was like a one-person, homemade San Ramon Express. I tried to cover everything, news, commentary, even lost pets.
Victor used to comment on my news stories and criticize me when I was not being objective. He also criticized my Commentaries, but news is supposed to be objective and commentaries are supposed to be opinions. He helped me report the news free from political slant.
I received complements in the supermarket for how objective and unbiased the news portions of my website were. When I started writing for the Express, I mostly wrote news stories. They were rather dry, but they were facts without spin. Now that I am a blogger I can spin my opinions whichever way I want.
Express Publisher, Gina Channell-Allen was covering the event. I saw her in the front row taking a lot of photos, but the lighting wasn't good and her photos were not coming out as clear as she wanted. She asked me if I took any photos.
I didn't bring a camera with me, but I had a cell phone. It has a camera built in, but I don't know how to use it. I'm really fuddled by some of the new technology today, cell phones in particular. I've never used one for taking pictures.
Outgoing Councilmember Jim Livingstone was given a tearful farewell, starting with Pat Perry, San Ramon's first Poet Laureate. Perry read a poem she composed to honor Councilman Livingstone. Jim teared up and sniffled his way through the rest of his farewell speech.
City Clerk Pat Edwards who is also retiring this year, presented Jim with hats and shirts with the City logo and Oakland A's logos. Jim thanked everyone, especially long-time staff members and former City Manager Herb Moniz, and reelected Councilman Dave Hudson.
Jim went on to praise Hudson. "Mr. Hudson, Mr. San Ramon, always makes informed decisions." Jim was critical of the other Councilmembers who supported Dave's opposition candidate. "They should know better," he said, looking at Mayor Bill Clarkson and Councilman Phil O'Loane. Councilman Scott Perkins also endorsed Dave's opposition, but he was absent from the meeting.
Jim also supports the proposed HOV ramps on Norris Canyon Road and said these should not be stopped by a small group of residents. They should be ashamed of themselves.
I agree with Jim on that, but I disagreed that holding the election this year was a waste of money. Dave Hudson probably would not have been reelected if the election was held next year. Voters would have resented switching to even years without giving us the opportunity to vote on it again.
I sat next to Dan Lee, Dave Hudson's Campaign Manager. Dave ran a very clean campaign, with no attacks on any of his opponents. Lee said that hurt Dave on Election Day; most of Dave's votes were cast in the absentee ballots. "Negative campaigning works," he said, referring to a flyer sent out supporting one of Dave's opponents. That's a sad commentary on what influences voters, but I respect Dave for taking the high road.
Harry Sachs also won without negative campaigning. He took the Oath of Office with his wife and children by his side, and then took the seat of the retiring Jim Livingstone. Except for Harry taking over for Jim, there are no major changes in the Council makeup. We shall see how that affects Council decisions over the next three years.