Photo courtesy of Henrietta J. Burroughs
Magda Gonzalez, on the right, shares a laugh with
two East Palo Alto residents during a June 15, 2012
community meeting that was held to meet the four
city manager finalists.
As the summer winds down and fall approaches, East Palo Alto residents can expect major changes in their city government. The first major change will be the appointment of the city’s new top manager.
After an arduous decision making process, city officials announced on August 3 that Magda Gonzalez was selected by the East Palo Alto City Council to be East Palo Alto’s next city manager. Gonzalez’s selection came after a six months search that saw the elimination of 78 other candidates who had applied for the position from all other the country.
Ms. Gonzalez is the former deputy city manager for Redwood City. In addition to her position with Redwood City, she has also served in an executive capacity in the cities of Belmont and San Bruno.
East Palo Alto Mayor, Laura Martinez, expressed excitement about Gonzalez’s selection “The Council looks forward to working with her in moving the city forward,” Martinez said. The formal appointment of Gonzalez to the city manager position must await the negotiation of her employment contract, which is still underway.
In addition to the change that is being made to the city’s top managerial position, the terms of three city council members – Martinez and Council members Peter Evans and Carlos Romero -- expire this November.
So, East Palo Alto residents can expect to see a minimum of one or a maximum of three new faces on their five-member city council.
While Martinez and Evans have decided to seek a second four-year term, Romero stated that he would not seek another term on the council.
It was revealed this past spring during Romero’s campaign for a seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors that he did not have a degree from both Stanford and Harvard, which he had claimed during his 2008 campaign for the East Palo Alto City Council seat.
Shortly after this revelation, some East Palo Alto residents started a petition to initiate a recall to remove Romero from office. There is some speculation that Romero’s decision might have been influenced by the backlash that developed.
Romero responded to the speculation about his decision not to run, by stating that he had originally planned, when he was elected, to stay in office for only one four-year term.
Thus far, five city residents --- Bernardo Huerta; East Palo Alto’s former council member and mayor, Donna Rutherford; Jorge Prado; Lisa Yarbrough-Gauthier and Larry Moody -- will face the two incumbents, Martinez and Evans, in running this November for the three open council seats.
All seven candidates paid the city’s $25 filing fee and submitted papers to meet the August 10 deadline. Since Romero, an incumbent, decided not to run, the deadline was automatically extended five days to August 15 to allow other interested candidates to run for a seat on the city council. As of Monday, August 13, one other resident has shown an interest in running, but has not completed all of the necessary filing requirements.
Each of the declared candidates paid the $228.40 ballot statement fee to the San Mateo County Clerk’s office to have a listing on the November ballot.
So, when the November 2012 election is over, the change that is in the air, with the pending appointment of a new city manager and the election of three city council members, will become a concrete reality for East Palo Alto residents. How they deal with these changes will be another matter.
To contact Henrietta J. Burroughs, the author of this article, email email@example.com