It was a bittersweet moment Tuesday evening for outgoing Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves as he relinquished his gavel — and his role as mayor.
“It seems like just yesterday we were meeting here to select the mayor. I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone,” Aceves said as he gave his final speech as mayor, outlining some of the significant accomplishments of the city during his one-year term.
Included in his list of accomplishments were the groundbreaking or completion of several development projects, establishment of Goleta’s own municipal code and the completion of more than 100 General Plan amendments, all against a backdrop of a shaky economy and a downturning budget, which at one point caused the council to authorize the layoffs of two city employees and two sheriff’s deputies and a weeklong furlough for city employees.
“But we found at fiscal year-end we had some extra money. We found that based on conservative budgeting, we ended up in the black,” Aceves said, adding that the surplus allowed for the reinstatement of the deputy and the return of money to the employees that was reserved for the furlough days.
Aceves, elected to the council in 2006, was at first pegged as a representative of development interests, but he has since worked to shake off labels from both sides of Goleta’s political factions, split along attitudes toward growth and development in the nearly built-out 7-year-old city.
“I thank you very much, council and the public, for allowing me to serve as mayor for this past year,” Aceves said.
His speech was followed by thanks from the other members of the council, staff and from Jonny Wallis, a former mayor and councilwoman.
“It isn’t always easy being mayor, but name me a better job,” Wallis said as she complimented Aceves’ fairness and his handling of the city’s public process.
But where there was a slight melancholy for the end of one term, there was excitement for the beginning of another. The council appointed Councilman Eric Onnen to the seat of mayor.
In Goleta, the mayorship rotates each year among the elected council members.
“I would like to thank my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to perform this role. I’m honored to serve as the mayor for the city of Goleta, and I hope I can serve with dignity and grace that those of you that have already done this job have done with before,” Onnen said.
Elected to council in 2006, Onnen, the owner of Santa Barbara Airbus in Old Town Goleta, was a new face to Goleta politics. Seen as representing business and development, Onnen has taken criticism from some of the slow-growth proponents in the city and also has been credited for bringing the business community’s perspective to the council.
Meanwhile, City Council veteran Margaret Connell was appointed to the post of mayor pro tempore for 2010.
The musical chairs didn’t end with the mayor and mayor pro tem; both Onnen and Connell also were appointed as chair and vice chair of the Redevelopment Agency and the Planning Agency, and the council shuffled appointments among themselves to various committees and agencies within the city and the county.
— Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at email@example.com.