It was a changing of the guard at the Rohnert Park City Hall Tuesday as the council bid farewell to one of its own and welcomed someone new to their number.
The outgoing councilmember was Amy Ahanotu and it was with a solemn tone that he spoke his final words to his fellow councilmembers and the citizens of Rohnert Park that had gathered to witness.
“Somebody asked me what I wanted people to remember me for. I said that if they remember I served at all then that will be enough,” Ahanotu said.
Ahanotu joined the council back in 2010, but his time in Rohnert Park goes back still further. He first moved to the city in 1985 to work a job at Taco Bell as an assistant manager. Since then he’s changed hats a few times.
Eventually Ahanotu married and got a job with Redwood Credit Union as a branch manager where he worked his way up the ladder. Most recently the bank promoted him to vice president, which is quite an accomplishment for the naturalized Nigerian immigrant. It’s also the reason why he chose not to run for reelection.
“In January when my work and the city council started clashing I had a discussion with my CEO. He said, ‘If you can make it work then try to make it work.’” Ahanotu said. “I tried...but it didn’t work.”
Susan Hollingsworth Adams is taking Ahanotu’s chair.
Adams served previously on the Rohnert Park Planning Commission as the commission’s senior most member. She’s been there since 2003. That’s quite a long time to learn the inner workings of local government and city planning.
And it’s not just experience. Susan Adams has blood on her side, too. Her father, Art Hollingsworth, is a long time Rohnert Park resident and a previous city councilmember. She’s following, more or less, in his footsteps.
Adams was practically beaming as she accepted the position and spoke the oath of office.
“It’s a very special honor. I really appreciate the voters trust in the council’s community decision making. I’m excited,” Adams said.
A new council member wasn’t the only change in the roster. Pam Stafford’s term as mayor has also come to an end. Joseph Callinan, the current vice mayor, was expected by the city and the rest of the council to act as her replacement, but in a last minute change of heart Callinan declined the position.
Callinan works as a contractor for his day job, and with the recent
rebuilding effort from last year’s fire he’s got 14 houses that he’s responsible for putting together. He felt that the added responsibility ‘of a mayorship on top of his business would prove to be too much.
“I just can’t give the mayorship the commitment that it deserves for the city of Rohnert Park this year. I don’t think it’s fair for the citizens of Rohnert Park for me to take that position, as much as I would love to,” Callinan said. “Anybody who knows me knows that it’s tearing at me not to accept this.”
So Callinan passed the torch to the next council member in line: Gina Belforte. This will be Belforte’s third term as mayor. She’s been on the council for almost a decade and that history gives her quite a bit of experience to draw on. Belforte has also announced that in 2020 she will run for the job of Sonoma County Supervisor, competing for the position currently held by Shirlee Zane.