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In The News

‘Beginning of a greater community’

By Michelle Durand

The Daily Journal, 12/08/09

The Redwood City Council got a major overhaul last night, installing newly re-elected member Jeff Ira as mayor for the next two years and adding two new faces to replace termed-out councilmembers Diane Howard and Jim Hartnett.

John Seybert and Jeff Gee, both former planning commissioners, joined the council, shaking the makeup for the first time in five years. Along with Ira, the City Council unanimously installed Councilwoman Alicia Aguirre as vice mayor.

Redwood City rotates its mayor every two years instead of the more standard year of other cities. During Foust’s turn with the gavel, she battled with San Mateo County over plans for a new jail in the city — specifically when the county planned to buy land for that purpose without first telling the city. She also took on Save the Bay, an environmental nonprofit whose fight over proposed development of the Cargill Saltworks site propelled twin ballot measures about open space in 2008.

That was a “challenging time,” Foust said in her final moments as mayor, while highlighting positives such as downtown and the new general and strategic plans.

Foust said it was “an honor and a privilege” to serve such “an absolutely incredible community.”

But the best part?

“All the things I got to do with our children,” Foust said.

Foust’s enthusiasm was echoed by the newest members of the council as they look toward the future.

Howard and Hartnett were both termed out, paving the way for the two new members. The audience stood and clapped as both literally stepped down off the dais.

New members Gee and Seybert were elected in November, beating out probation officer Cherlene Wright and business owner Janet Borgens. Ira was re-elected for his final term.

Seybert honored Hartnett and Howard, saying he looks “forward to following their direction.” But he mainly acknowledged his family for supporting his campaign and sharing him with the city he hopes to improve with his tenure.

“Tomorrow is the beginning of an even greater community than the one we already enjoy,” Seybert said.

Gee also pointed to the future, promising to work hard to make Redwood City the best it can be. Like Seybert, he also thanked his family since they had “51 percent” in the decision.

Ira, no novice to the council, thanked everyone for giving him a final chance to finish his goals but reminded the audience everybody must work to reach that end.

“The time to act is now,” he said.


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