Newly installed Santa Paula Mayor Martin Hernandez and Vice Mayor Jenny Crosswhite pose in front of the City Seal after they were moved to the top of the council pyramid at Monday’s meeting.

Mayor and Vice Mayor selected for the City of Santa Paula

December 11, 2015
Santa Paula News

Newly seated Mayor Martin Hernandez has plans for the city’s future

Councilwoman Crosswhite trumps Tovias for Vice Mayor’s seat



Newly seated Mayor Martin Hernandez has plans for the city’s future

As expected Vice Mayor Martin Hernandez was selected the Mayor of Santa Paula Monday evening although the vote was not unanimous after Hernandez, now entering his fourth year of council service, abstained from voting for himself.

The only real surprise after outgoing Mayor John Procter handed Hernandez the gavel was the competing nominations for Vice Mayor, with first year Councilwoman Jenny Crosswhite talking the seat only after Hernandez’s nomination of veteran Councilman Jim Tovias failed on a split vote.

At the December 7 council meeting Hernandez’s installation for mayor was witnessed by family members as well as Supervisor Kathy Long. Hernandez, who announced in May he is seeking the retiring Long’s 3rd District seat, is the supervisor’s chief of staff.

The highest vote getter in the 2012 election, Hernandez had been rebuffed for the largely ceremonial mayor’s seat until a new council majority took power last year.

At Monday’s meeting City Clerk Judy Rice explained the process of selecting the mayor and vice mayor, each that serve a one-year term.

Rice said any member of the council “may nominate a council member including him or herself,” and a second to the nomination is not required.

Any council member she added can close the nominations but only after receiving a second to the motion and affirmation by a council majority. 

The vote, Rice noted, is “taken in the order that the nominations are made.” 

Procter immediately nominated Hernandez and Tovias called for the nominations to be closed. All agreed and Hernandez called for a roll call then abstained from voting for himself.

Once Hernandez presented the gavel plaque to Procter marking his service as mayor Procter said “And I have one for you!”

After Hernandez took the gavel and the middle seat he conducted the election of Vice Mayor, which after a few tense minutes saw Councilman Jim Tovias defeated for the seat and Crosswhite selected.

Hernandez noted the Mercer-Prieto VFW Post 2043 had started the meeting with a Color Guard.

“I would like to take a moment of silence out of respect for all veterans who have honorably served our country and especially those that lost their life on December 7th as we acknowledge the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

After the moment of silence Hernandez thanked city staff for their “tireless dedication in serving our residents…I have truly appreciated working with all,” and he looks forward to “working with you as Mayor this coming year as we continue to move our city forward.”

Hernandez also thanked his friends and supporters as well as the residents of Santa Paula with whom he later said he shares the middle seat.

“It has been a pleasure serving you and I am committed to continuing an open door policy,” for residents to express their ideas and concerns “related to the city and our region.”

The continued support of his family, said Hernandez, “allows me to fulfill my passion for public service,” and he thanked his wife Holly for “being my best friend, supporter and confidant.”

Noting his commitment to public safety, health and welfare Hernandez said among his goals as the new mayor is working to pass a general tax initiative to help fund police and fire. The initiative, he noted, would also create preventative youth programs that would be operated by the city’s Recreation Department and enhance services offered by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Clara Valley.

“My sole reason for leading this effort,” that includes both the police and fire chiefs as well as Procter, “is to insure a safer Santa Paula.”

Hernandez said a stronger relationship must be formed with public and private healthcare providers in the community for all to benefit from and the city’s administration must be made stronger with updated software, equipment and training as well as competitive salaries. Such improvements he noted would require a “stronger economic development plan which creates more businesses and jobs,” to boost city revenue.

Open government is a priority that Hernandez said would be addressed during and after the annual chamber luncheon when the State of the City will be followed by a second address, “a look ahead to 2016 listing accomplishments and plans respectively…it will be open and free to the constituents of Santa Paula.”

Lastly, Hernandez thanked the council for “their confidence in my leadership as mayor in the coming year…I know together we will accomplish great things.”

Councilwoman Crosswhite trumps Tovias for Vice Mayor’s seat

There was a minor tussle at Monday’s City Council meeting after the selection of Mayor Martin Hernandez when Newcomer City Councilwoman Jenny Crosswhite trumped Councilman Jim Tovias for the seat of Vice Mayor.

After Hernandez was selected on a 4-0- vote — he abstained from voting for himself — outgoing Mayor John Procter handed over the gavel.

Taking the middle seat Hernandez said the selection of Vice Mayor was next on the agenda and he immediately nominated Tovias.

“You want to do it?” a surprised looking Councilwoman Ginger Gherardi was heard asking Tovias.

Procter seemed surprised as he nominated Crosswhite and moved to close the nominations. After an awkward silence Tovias moved that the nominations be closed.

“Nothing precludes us from having a conversation about this,” said Procter who noted, “I would just like to hear, I know this is your last year,” so he asked why Tovias would seek being vice mayor.

“You said,” he added, “you weren’t going to run again…”

Said Tovias, “Actually I talked about the possibility of running I never closed the door, I was surprised to read I wouldn’t be running next year.”

“Once again,” he noted, “nobody every called me on that.”

Whether or not he would run for council again is the subject of “hearsay…I know sometimes we can get a little frustrated with things that go on,” but Tovias said the “city is very important to me.”

He noted the council has worked on “some big projects,” such as Adams 

Canyon and East Area 1, “that I would like to see come to fruition.”

Although, “I’m not saying at this point,” if he will run for reelection in 

November 2016, “but I was surprised to see it in the newspaper I wasn’t going to run…it would be great if someone would call so I could give them an answer. I’m not that far away and I’m very easy to find.”

When Rice called for the vote on Tovias’ nomination Crosswhite, who was called first, sat and looked at Tovias for several seconds before answering “No…”

Procter and Gherardi also answered no; Tovias and Hernandez voted yes,

When the vote for Crosswhite was called all members of the council supported her.

Crosswhite said she is looking forward to the year ahead and enjoyed her first 12 months on the council.

“It has been an amazing year and I look forward to the next three years serving this great community,” and Crosswhite noted, “I look forward to continuing to serve with all of you here on the dais.”

The Santa Paula City Council celebrated the changing of the guard at the December 7 meeting where (left to right) outgoing Mayor John Procter, newly installed Mayor Martin Hernandez, Vice Mayor Jenny Crosswhite, Councilwoman Ginger Gherardi and Councilman Jim Tovias readied themselves for the coming year of municipal business.

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