SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - As four members took their oath of office to the Santa Barbara City Council, there were photos, congratulations, many rounds of applause, and a reception for them in City Hall. There was also a message to get to work on a long list of projects ahead.
The council now has two new members Michael Jordan and Alejandra Gutierrez and also being sworn in, returning members Meagan Harmon and Oscar Gutierrez.
They are diverse but said in many ways from many microphones, they go at their job, unified.
"We are four women. We are three people of color. We are moms and dads and grandparents of toddlers and school aged children. We live in inter and multigenerational households, " said Harmon.
Jordan agreed saying, "each one of us bring different life experiences, different frame of references." He said they need to use their experiences but also the public's input too.
Two councilmembers spoke in both English and Spanish to the audience.
"I am definitely a product of how every vote counts. I did win by 8 votes. I was born and raised in the city and I am definitely a product of the city," said Alejandra Gutierrez.
Unrelated to her and also on the council Oscar Gutierrez said, "I am extremely proud to sit up here and lead the way for future generations. I take the responsibility really seriously and it is the biggest responsibility of my life so far."
This council has a full agenda of issues including homelessness, housing, and the local economic picture especially in the downtown area which has been struggling. They also have to hear community input on the new proposed police station site on Cota Street and the possible relocation of the Saturday Farmers' Market. There's also a simmering plan to redesign De la Guerra Plaza directly in front of City Hall. On the other side of town, a large housing plan has been discussed for a portion of the La Cumbre Plaza where Sears just closed.
Every councilmember has a notepad full of challenges in their districts but have to balance those with overall city issues.
The event also gave two outgoing councilmembers time to speak and for the remaining councilmembers to give their farewells....
"I'm very excited to move on to other arenas in government and politics and do a little more non-profit work," said Jason Dominguez who served four years and is now running for the State Assembly.
Councilmember Randy Rowse said, "we've argued. We've laughed with each other. We bark at each other." He also gave advice to the new council. "I hope the district thing is something you respect and don't take too seriously. Nothing we do up here is district oriented, it is at large, everything is for the city not just for a district"
With some humor Councilmember Eric Friedman repeated a famous line from former Governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger when he said to Rowse and Dominguez, "I mean this with all sincerity. Hasta la Vista baby"
Dominguez who just became a father in the last week, announced the birth of a baby girl, his first child.Rowse leaves the council as he also goes through ownership changes at his nearby landmark restaurant the Paradise Cafe.