There wasn’t a dry eye in Visalia’s City Hall on Tuesday, November 26, as the Visalia City Council convened to select a new mayor and vice mayor.
During a special session of the city council, Visalians gathered to witness a changing of the guard, but got so much more. Outgoing Mayor Amy Shuklian started the meeting with a proclamation declaring November 26, 2013 as Cash Shank Day, in honor of Shank, a five-year-old Visalia boy waging a courageous fight against brain cancer. He was unable to attend, but many family members were in the chambers to mark his day. His grandmother accepted a plaque presented to the family from Shuklian.
Shuklian was only able to get through the presentation with the aid of a few Kleenexes. The proclamation stated, “Cash has been an amazing ambassador for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital and an inspiration to all of us. Cash’s grandmother describes him as the ‘toughest little boy.’ His parents, Rob and Megan, and his entire family are so proud of Cash for his bravery, smiles, hugs and fighting spirit in the midst of his adversity. Cash is a ‘Superhero.’”
Shuklian ended with a quote from the late actor Christopher Reeve, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
The next order of business was for the three re-elected incumbents to take the oath of office and introduce their families. Steve Nelsen’s family showed up in force, as did Warren Gubler’s. Greg Collins had a surprise visit from his son, but the rest of his family was on the road and would not be home until the following day. Since this was Collins seventh time taking the oath of office, they had seen it before.
Shuklian’s last duty as mayor was to ask for nominations for Visalia’s new mayor. Gubler made the motion that Nelsen take over as mayor and Bob Link seconded the motion. Nelsen accepted the post by thanking the citizens of Visalia and recounting the last few months of his campaign, which happened to be the last few months of his mother’s life. She passed away before the election. The following is the finale to Nelsen’s speech, and homage to his mother, read to the city council, staff and attendees.
“What you see today is a collaborative effort of God, family, friends, and colleagues and I promise to make all of you proud. In closing, I would like to share a story about my mom who recently passed away.
Ever since I was elected to city council my mom, whenever we talked, would say, ‘Are you mayor yet?’ and I would always reply, ‘No, I am a council member.’ In our conversations, it was like a standing joke, always the same question and always the same answer. When we moved my mom here after her massive stroke we still had the same discussion with the same answer. It was amazing to me, as her mind slowly became confused and sentences become shorter, we still had the same discussion, ‘Are you the mayor yet?’ ‘No, Mom, I am a city council member.’
Up until about a month before her passing, when she became really confused and the sentences became words, did our discussion end. I am happy to report, thanks to all of you for making this possible, ‘Yes, Mom, I am mayor.’ God bless all you and God bless our great city.”