At the Visalia City Council special session on Friday, December 16, the council members said goodbye to one colleague and ushered in a new mayor.
Not a dry eye was to be seen as each council member expressed gratitude for the time they spent with Councilmember Amy Shuklian. Mayor Steve Nelsen said that he admired her dedication and passion for the citizens of Visalia and that she was an example to live by.
“The sincerity is there for sure and you will be sorely missed,” he said. “I will always consider you a friend.”
Nelsen added that despite her leaving he is happy to have a resource he can count on at the Tulare County Board of Supervisors (TCBOS.)
Councilmember Greg Collins said that Shuklian and Nelsen were two of the hardest working mayors he had seen, and that the best testament to their hard work was the passage of Measure N. Passed with 65% of the vote, Measure N was the half-cent sales tax increase earmarked to improve Visalia’s public safety infrastructure.
Councilmember Bob Link agreed with Nelsen that it will be nice to have such a reliable source on the TCBOS and that he knows she will bring the compassion and feeling to her new job as a supervisor. Councilmember Warren Gubler said that he echoed all the same sentiments already stated and said that she had done an outstanding job.
“And I even want to give her a hug,” he said.
As Gubler gave Shuklian that goodbye hug the audience gave her a standing ovation.
The city staff then presented Shuklian with some parting gifts. Along with the hats and mugs was a fully working stop light complete with a bullet hole. Gubler presented Shuklian with her own street sign with her name printed on it, and Nelsen presented her with a plaque recognizing her work on the city council from 2007 to 2016.
Then it was Shuklian’s turn and she started by thanking her partner Mary for everything she has had to go through with Shuklian’s being on the city council. “She has been on this ride with me for awhile and it’s not over.” She thanked the other council members, and said of the city staff that she was never so proud of calling herself a Visalian as when working with them. “You guys make us look good. We make some decisions and press some buttons sometimes but you do all the hard work.”
Shuklian then pointed out that she had been to 293 straight meetings and had not missed one.
Bob Link Takes Oath of Office
The November 8 election was Visalia’s first held by district versus a city-wide contest. Phil Cox was elected to District 1 while Councilmember Link won District 2 by beating two challengers out by a wide margin. Districts 3, 4, and 5 will be up for election in 2018.
Only Link stood in front of the dais to take the oath of office, as the newly elected Cox sat in the audience.
According to Shuklian, several people rearranged their schedules and travel plans to accommodate attending of the oath of office ceremony. She was disappointed when she found out that Cox decided against being sworn-in that night. He instead opted to take the oath of office in a private ceremony on December 21 at city hall so that he can attend his last supervisors meeting.
Local election regulations state that a person cannot hold two offices at the same time. According to Shuklian, Cox claimed that he didn’t want to miss his last supervisor meeting. But she said it’s all about the money and that he tried to get the council to schedule the swearing-in on December 20. He initially wanted to be sworn-in for city council in January, said Shuklian, but the city attorney said that wasn’t legal. Once the Tulare County Registrar of voters notifies the candidates that they won their election the candidate has 15 days to take the oath.
The Tulare County Registrar of Voters certified the results late in the afternoon of December 5.
After Link took the oath of office the city council chose Gubler as its new mayor and Link as the new vice mayor. Gubler wanted to thank the council for the privilege of serving as mayor for the next two years.
This would be Gubler’s first time in the position. Link had served as mayor twice. Gubler wanted to recognize the people who were most important to him as his family. He recognized his wife of 35 years and children in the audience and said that he has yet to find a better job than being a husband and a father.
Gubler outlined his priorities for his term. He plans on focusing on the homeless and giving them more opportunities to work so they can gain self esteem. He wants to rejuvenate the sister city relationship with Miki, Japan. A delegation from Visalia went to Japan this summer and a Japanese delegation will be arriving in Visalia next spring. Gubler plans on increasing interest in the Senior Games, bringing back the Fourth of July fireworks celebration, and the Mayors’ Dinner.
Mayor Nelsen made some parting comments as he handed the gavel to Gubler. He said that it takes a village to raise a child and a village to make a mayor. He thanked Gubler for taking over mayoral duties when he wasn’t available and Link for being a mentor. He thanked City Manager Mike Olmos and Assistant City Manager Leslie Caviglia for their tutelage and the city attorney for making him look intelligent.
Nelsen also wanted to point out that the task of being mayor would be impossible without his right-hand team of Allison Lambert, Kathy Rouse, Gladys Ruiz, and Michelle Nicholson. He said it is these ladies who keep the city moving forward and keep the council grounded.
Nelsen ended by saying, “What it’s about is giving back to the community. If I made one day better for a Visalian then I am happy.”