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Santa Maria Swears In New City Council Members Mike Cordero, Michael Moats

Mayor Alice Patino takes oath of office for her second term, Bob Orach says "so long" after 30 years and Terri Zuniga also leaves panel

Mike Cordero and Dr. Michael Moats take the oath of office for the Santa Maria City Council on Tuesday night. City Clerk Patti Rodriguez administers the oath. Click to view larger
Mike Cordero and Dr. Michael Moats take the oath of office for the Santa Maria City Council on Tuesday night. City Clerk Patti Rodriguez administers the oath. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

In a meeting punctuated by heavy emotions and light-hearted moments, two new members took the oath of office — and seats at the dais — for the Santa Maria City Council on Tuesday night after two others said farewell.

Mike Cordero, a former council member and retired police lieutenant, and Dr. Michael Moats, a dermatologist and former planning commissioner, were the top vote-getters in the Nov. 8 election.

Before their swearing-in in ceremony, the panel said good-bye to outgoing Councilman Bob Orach and Councilwoman Terri Zuniga

Moats and Cordero joined re-elected Mayor Alice Patino along with council members Jack Boysen and Etta Waterfield on the panel. 

Tuesday marked a return to the City Council for Cordero who served a four-year term previously and said he was pleased to be back.

He noted current council members stand on the shoulders of those who served before, like Orach and Zuniga.

“You just can’t thank enough people because when you get this opportunity the community selects you and trusts with such a special occupation,” Cordero said. 

In addition to thanking those who voted for him, Cordero said he would work diligently to gain the support and respect of those who didn’t vote for him.

“It’s great to be here,” Moats said, thanking voters.

“As I take office for the City Council I have no agenda other than good governance for the city of Santa Maria,” he said, adding he does not represent any special interest groups. 

He said he hopes to work to make Santa Maria “a safe city, a prosperous city, an aesthetically attractive city, and to do these things while being financially responsible.”

With her grandchildren nearby, Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino takes the oath to begin her second term on the City Council. Click to view larger
With her grandchildren nearby, Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino takes the oath to begin her second term on the City Council. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The ceremony was held before a full audience in council chambers with council members and staff making comments, voices choking with emotion at some points.

With her four grandchildren on hand, Patino kicked off her second term, and expressed appreciation for her family’s support and sacrifices.

“And I thank the people of Santa Maria for giving me this opportunity and this trust,” Patino said.

With an unprecedented 30 years on the council, Orach announced in the summer he would not seek another term. 

As he left, he called upon residents to support the newly-elected officials. 

“I will charge all of you to please, please support them and encourage them because it’s a great responsibility that I had for 30 years and I know they’ll do a phenomenal job coming on this dais and directing this community in a positive fashion,” Orach said. “But you need to be involved, all of you, in some way, shape or form.”

In all, he has been involved in the community for 40 years, helping bring soccer leagues to the community and fulfilling numerous other roles.

Outgoing Santa Maria Councilman Bob Orach smiles as he is congratulated by colleagues Tuesday night. Click to view larger
Outgoing Santa Maria Councilman Bob Orach smiles as he is congratulated by colleagues Tuesday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“It’s been an absolute honor, privilege and a pleasure — most of the time — to serve a community and be involved,” Orach said. 

“It’s so long, it isn’t good-bye because I’m still going to be very active, watch these guys,” he said later.

He brought his own special twist to the start of council meetings, with a soft “play ball” following the flag salute. Tuesday night, he called on audience to join him in giving a robust “play ball.”

Orach is credited for helping bring State Water to Santa Maria, not a popular decision at the time, but one that proved to be wise, Patino added.

“I’d like to say you were one of the really great (ones),” said Tom Urbanske, a former member of the City Council and Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. “Old reliable you are, and were and always were.”

Zuniga, who served four years on the council, lost her bid for another term when she placed third.

Boysen said that while he and Zuniga differed on many issues, they both worked to help the neediest of Santa Maria’s residents and continued to respect each other. 

The Santa Maria City Council said goodbye to Councilwoman Terri Zuniga during her last meeting Tuesday night. Click to view larger
The Santa Maria City Council said goodbye to Councilwoman Terri Zuniga during her last meeting Tuesday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“I just hope the two council members replacing you are as dedicated and compassionate as you,” Boysen said. 

City Manager Rick Haydon said he appreciated the perspective Zuniga brought to the council and said the term servant leader describes her.

“Your heart is in public service,” Haydon said. “Your love is for the betterment of the community in the whole and you’ve shown that.  

“You consistently worked for open government, for transparency and for valuing diversity in the city of Santa Maria,” he added.

Later in the meeting Boysen was unanimously named mayor pro-tempore for the next year. 

The City Council also saluted Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, upon her retirement from Congress. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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.

The Santa Maria City Council with members Jack Boysen, Etta Waterfield, Mayor Alice Patino, Dr. Michael Moats and Mike Cordero. Click to view larger
The Santa Maria City Council with members Jack Boysen, Etta Waterfield, Mayor Alice Patino, Dr. Michael Moats and Mike Cordero. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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