SPCC: Hernandez, Tovias take oath of office, Fernandez selected mayor
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula City Council
Published: December 19, 2012
There’s a new City Councilman and a new Mayor in town after Santa Paula swore in a newcomer, an incumbent, and appointed one of its own to hold the gavel. First-time candidate and largest vote-getter Martin Hernandez and Jim Tovias, who was elected to his second term, took the oath of office after a farewell to Fred Robinson, who lost his second bid for elected office November 6.
But first returning City Clerk Judy Rice had to be sworn in, a process that was handled with humor when, first, it was discovered that the action was not agendized, and then afterward when it was noted Rice had not raised her right hand during the oath of office. Rice then administered the oath of office to Hernandez and Tovias without further mishap, although throughout the meeting the newly seated Hernandez had the seat but not the nameplate, which still carried Robinson’s name.
When called upon for comments, Hernandez noted, “It is with great humility that I accept this position... I would like to thank all of those who have mentored me over years and years.” Hernandez said his wife Holly, “Has been with me every step of the way,” and he thanked Robinson for his “exemplary” service to the community.
Hernandez said he is looking forward to “bringing communication back to the community,” and “I take very seriously” restoring the “voice” of citizens to issues. Hernandez offered his private cell phone number and pledged, “I’m always available to hear not only your concerns but also your ideas... this is the most beautiful city in the county,” which he looks forward to serving.
The toughest part of council service, said Tovias, is campaigning, and he said it was “an honor to run with my friend Fred... he’s a very special person.” Council members are “up here to make the right calls, be honest,” and Tovias said he is looking forward to serving four more years.
“We’re thrown up here and expected to perform” for the betterment of the community, and Tovias noted the council is “the board of directors, the staff is the employees, and the community the stockholders who decide who is going to represent the city.... I look forward to serving” with Hernandez.
“We have some tough stuff to deal with and I’m ready.” Tovias also thanked his wife Martha for all her support.
Councilman Rick Cook welcomed Hernandez to the dais and agreed that the worst - running for office - was behind Hernandez and Tovias. Serving on the council “will be fun in a lot of ways and challenging in a lot of ways,” but, noted Cook, worthwhile.
Outgoing Mayor Bob Gonzales offered his congratulations and said he is looking forward to “working with you Martin.... I think we go back to before you were hired by Interface... I know you’ve worked well” for Supervisor Kathy Long, who attended the meeting to witness her chief of staff being sworn in.
Gonzales said he his looking forward to “having the inside track in county politics,” but said the word politics is a misnomer, as “it’s service to the community.”
When it came time to select the new Mayor there were no surprises: Gonzales nominated Vice Mayor Ralph Fernandez, with a quick second by Tovias. Fernandez garnered a unanimous vote.
Cook was nominated for Vice Mayor, also by Gonzales, with Tovias offering the second to the motion, which also garnered unanimous council approval.
Fernandez, first elected to the council in 2006, said, “As mayor, it’s important to me that my fellow council members support me” during his largely ceremonial term of mayoral office, the second time Fernandez has thus served. It’s an “honor” to represent the community, which Fernandez encouraged never to hesitate to contact him. Fernandez thanked his wife Cathy and their children, noting, “If no one else, that’s my fan club.”
Fernandez presented the plaque and gavel to Gonzales, “someone I admire who has served the community well for many, many years,” Gonzales. Fernandez said it was an honor to serve with Gonzales, whose leadership he hopes to emulate.
Gonzales thanked Fernandez and said although serving as mayor is a “pleasure... the mayor is only one-fifth of the equation.” As mayor, he added, “all you do is orchestrate the meetings... some battles take place,” on issues, but as mayor “you are quarterback of the team, but one-fifth of the vote.”
Rice also administered the Oath of Office to returning City Treasurer Sandra “Sandy” Easley, again a near miss due to not being agendized.