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Local News

Willie Green Settling Into His Seat on Santa Maria City Council

Political newcomer is hopeful the council will work well together and that he can put his talents to good use

Willie Green has always been a busy man. These days, though, the two-time retiree is experiencing a kind of busy he’s not familiar with.

Green went through orientation the past two weeks as the newest member of the Santa Maria City Council. That means meetings, introductions, decisions about committee appointments and a seemingly endless stream of calls to his cell phone.

He recently told Noozhawk that he’s excited to make his first foray into political service — something his friends and family have been urging the part-time Allan Hancock College business and management instructor to do for years.

Having taught at Hancock since 2000, Green was unanimously chosen by the City Council from a pool of 14 applicants to serve the remaining two years of Mayor Alice Patino’s four-year term.

“Why not public service for a while?” asked Green, a 14-year Santa Maria resident. “I’m not going to stop working. It gives me a chance to help people. I think that’s a noble thing. I like bringing people together.“

Green retired the first time in 1971 after 20 years with the Air Force, and then again in the late 1990s after spending a number of years as a staff negotiator in the labor law/industrial relations division of Safeway stores in Northern California. He has since put his law degree to work at varying levels and gained experience as a neutral arbitrator for Costco Wholesale Teamsters California.

Green’s mediation experience must have caught the attention of Santa Maria council members, who were deadlocked for two months because they couldn’t agree on a candidate to fill the fifth seat.

“I know one thing for sure, I was qualified,” said Green, noting that he was still a bit surprised to be chosen. “Fortunately, it narrowed down in my favor. I think I can benefit the city in many ways.”

No stranger to public speaking or dealing with conflict, Green might be exactly what the council needs to become a productive, working unit.

Green is an ordained minister at First Baptist Church in Santa Maria, and he says he is especially fond of the Central Coast, which is where he met his wife of 47 years, Joann, while stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

He has three sons — one lives in Santa Maria — and three grandchildren.

Green said he’s fairly confident that he’ll be able to use his talents for the good of the council and city.

“It’s a little early to tell, but I don’t see why not,” he said of the council conducting business well together. “It’s also good to have a new face. One of the things we’re going to concentrate on, and have been, is cohesiveness — to make Santa Maria a better place, even though it’s already a fantastic place.”

Not surprisingly, Green said he can’t imagine wanting to give up this new gig in the next two years, either.

“I’m sure I’m going to enjoy doing what the job entails,” he said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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