January Walnut Creek Mayor's Message
Dec 30, 2016 10:17AM ● Published by Loella Haskew
Loella Haskew, Mayor of Walnut Creek
LOOKING BACK—LOOKING FORWARD
For most of 2016, I was mayor of one of the greatest cities in California - Walnut Creek. A good number of California cities use the council/city manager form of government. Under this form, the council serves as the policy-making board, analogous to the board of directors for a private company. The city manager is like the chief executive officer of a corporation. It is the manager’s job to implement the policies of the council and take responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the city. Cities that follow this form of government usually appoint one of the council members to assume the title of mayor. That person is like the chairman of the board.
It is up to the mayor to run the council meetings. The mayor works with the city manager to set agendas. With these responsibilities, the mayor frequently sets the tone about how the city is perceived by both the public and the employees. The mayor acts as the public face of the city, so when there is an event or issue in the city, the mayor is usually the one who responds to press inquiries and is available for interviews. In Walnut Creek, the mayor is responsible for producing the community’s ceremonies that honor the sentinels of our freedom at the annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day commemorations. The mayor proposes how our council subcommittees are populated and subject to ratification by the full council. When there is a constituent complaint, it is usually addressed to the mayor. The mayor can then respond on behalf of the city or, in some cases, forward the concern on to a staff person who is able to explain the situation and maybe even solve the problem. The mayor frequently represents the city in maintaining good relationships with neighboring communities and state legislators and, in some cases, will even meet with federal officials.
It is a big job and one I undertook with a profound sense of history and responsibility. I also was terrified, concerned if I would be able to handle all the circumstances that could occur while serving. It turns out there were many moments to have fun, from being officially declared a V.I.P, to tossing pizza dough, tasting foods at new restaurants, pouring wine for the chamber’s art & wine event, petting animals at ARF, and meeting so many, many wonderful people. The city also had some difficult decisions to make, including whether to support Trinity Center’s winter homeless program, approving changes with Carondolet High School’s acquisition of the former Valley Vista Tennis location, and trying to find a way to fund the much-needed replacements at the Clarke Swim Center at Heather Farm Park.
On December 6, I turned over the mayor’s responsibilities to Rich Carlston, who will do an extraordinarily great job of leading our city. It was a sad and joyful occasion for me. I thank everyone who made the past year so special. I thank Mayor Carlston in advance for all the work he is about to undertake.