Margaret Connell became the first mayor of the city of Goleta on Tuesday night, and the five candidates from Goleta Now!, the organization that drew up the cityhood plan, won the five seats on the new city council.
The first cheers came just after 8 p.m., when the large-screen television in Goleta’s Timber Restaurant announced to the five city council hopefuls of Goleta Now! that Measure H had passed and a job existed for them.
A wave of celebratory applause soon followed when all candidates – Connell, Jack Hawxhurst, Cynthia Brock, Jean Blois and Jonny Wallis – learned they had won.
Connell, a retired communications director, received 2,657 votes to become Goleta’s first mayor-elect, edging out Hawxhurst by only 66 votes.
Goleta’s new city government has its work cut out for it. Connell said the Local Agency Formation Commission, which approved the boundaries of the new city for the ballot on May 3, would meet Wednesday to discuss items of business the city must look into, such as hiring an interim city manager and secretary before the Feb. 1, 2002 incorporation date.
“The first step will be getting our interim staff together and then go out looking for permanent staff,” she said. “We have a lot to do before February.”
Jack Hawxhurst, a city council member-elect, said the new city of Goleta has a lot to accomplish.
“We’ve got to create a general plan in the next two years and allow the electorate to vote on it,” he said. “I see a community that’s the gateway to the Gaviota Coast, with incredible natural resources – where people will come just to view it.”
“The city council can start working with Goletans to draft our general plan. It will set the course for the future of Goleta,” City Council member-elect Jonny Wallis said.
Cynthia Brock, another council member, said the vote to establish Goleta as its own entity was long overdue. The Goleta city council is ” going to create a general plan, and it’s going to reflect what the people of Goleta want,” she said.
On the other side of town, at the Beachside CafŽ, opponents of Measure H gathered to watch the results of the election. The opponents were disappointed, but not surprised by the results.
“I told Margaret all along that I thought she’d be mayor. I thought at several of the debates she gave the best presentation. I’m happy because Margaret and I agreed on everything except the fundamental issue of Measure H. She has a superb reputation,” said candidate Dave Bearman, who finished seventh in the voting with 1,587 votes.
Das Williams, No on H campaign manager, said he hopes problems with the proposal will be resolved to ensure a successful city.
“What I think is important is that there are still a lot of things wrong with the proposal. We’ve grown up here, we work here, we live here – we all want Goleta to work,” he said. “We need to be conciliatory and do [our] best to help the new leaders of the city to make sure the things we’re afraid of don’t happen.”