“You were a great statesman for us,” and an advocate said Councilman Bob Gonzales who noted Fernandez’s involvement in ensuring Steckel Park Aviary remained open and that Santa Paula and Fillmore remained autonomous in upcoming transportation services.
“I admire your tenacity,” said Gonzales.
Also laudable was Fernandez’s consistent homework for council meetings: Gonzales said Fernandez, “Always knew the agenda inside and out,” and was prepared to conduct the meetings.
“You said something about us not always getting along; it’s fair for us to voice,” differing thoughts and opinions as noted Gonzales, “We are the community,” and are brought together to represent all.
Fernandez, he added, also “Represented us very well outside the city and I thank you for that.... “
Councilman Jim Tovias agreed noting, “We’re up here running the meetings and getting others involved. As Councilman Gonzales said we don’t want a five vote on everything, you want opinions,” before moving on, “because we have a lot of responsibility to make sure the town moves on.
“Being a mayor takes a lot of time,” that Tovias said includes attending “a lot of functions.... it’s mind-boggling that Mayor Fernandez was able to accomplish,” so much with all his other responsibilities both personal and professional.
And that includes municipal: Tovias said that Fernandez’s “Taking care of city and the needs of city is commendable.”
Whether as mayor or councilman, Fernandez “Has a passion for what you do,” said Councilman Martin Hernandez who noted, “It’s a pleasure working with you.... and I always enjoyed seeing you at functions with wife and children sometimes at your side,” a demonstration of Fernandez’s skill at balancing the needs of family and community.
Fontes said Fernandez provided, “Some outstanding leadership during the transit issues, you really stood your ground when it came time to take a stand,” on issues.
Numerous times when Fernandez would visit Fontes at his office he was accompanied by his children and Fontes vowed to continue to keep the candy jar filled for them.
“I just hope,” newly selected Mayor Rick Cook told Fernandez during the presentation of the plaque and gavel marking the end of Fernandez’s term, “that I can fill your shoes, fill the void you’re leaving.... “