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Mayor installation ceremony

  • Outgoing five-time Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie passed the gavel to Vice Mayor Pam Stafford Tuesday night officially making her Rohnert Park's Mayor for 2018.

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
December 15, 2017
New RP mayor and vice mayor share their vision for RP

After Tuesday night’s ceremony at the Rohnert Park City Hall for the installation of new RP Mayor Pam Stafford and new Vice Mayor Joseph Callinan, the two new officers for 2018 shared their vision for what they want to accomplish as RP mayor and vice mayor. This includes continuing to foster strong economic development, as well as continuing to work on developement of a downtown, a project city council members have been trying to get jump started for years.

Mayor Stafford spoke of her ideas for the city after her and Callinan’s official installation when Stafford was given the gavel and when the changing of the seats took place. Stafford moved from the left end of the desk to the center and Callinan took her old seat as vice mayor, while the other council members bustled around, picking up laptops, notebooks, water bottles and car keys as they moved to their new respective seats for the upcoming year.

Stafford said she hopes to continue on her colleagues path of getting things done, as well as ushering in new development while keeping strong ties with current retail and development projects. However, according to her, the biggest “to-do” as new mayor, is to keep the best interests of the people of Rohnert Park at heart.

In an interview following the ceremony, Stafford said of what she hopes to accomplish, “It’s a lot of the groundwork that would be laid this year for a downtown, so it wouldn’t be anything we would see in 2018.”

 Despite the three-year timeline for seeing the downtown up and running, Stafford did say that she believes that she and her team are good at making projects like these happen, “As our city manager mentioned, we do try to work as cooperatively as possible and that’s why we got that award from the North Coast Builders Exchange for our ability to make things happen.

Vice Mayor Callinan also expressed his aspirations of what he wants to get done for the city. Amid applause and festive plates of finger food, Callinan told the large crowd that he looks forward to working towards the downtown, what he says is “one of the biggest things on our plate.”

 “Fiscal responsibility and capital improvements — I look forward to getting all of this stuff done,” Callinan said.

Both he and Stafford also emphasized that they were thankful for having a collaborative and respectful team of colleagues to work with and while the five of them may not always agree on a topic or ordinance, they still always have positive relations and respect at the end of the day. This is one of the things that Stafford said she is most looking forward to as the new mayor. “This council is so nice to work with. We don’t always agree and we can feel very strongly and very differently, but we don’t ever get rude or obnoxious, we make it work,” Stafford said of her colleagues.

After their short statements, city council members also commented on the changing of the seats. Council member Gina Belforte offered her congratulations and support to Stafford in a heartfelt comment. “Congratulations and a I look forward to working with you as well as the vice mayor,” Belforte said.

Prior to hearing the new officials thoughts on their vision for the upcoming year, a presentation was held to reflect upon what city officials accomplished in 2017 and overall what the past year held for the city. The year’s highlights were presented in the form of a slide-show, each slide, displaying various photos of the city’s accomplishments in 2017, such as starting the family fun series, seeing the University District take shape, making improvements to Snyder Lane and establishing the community charrette meetings. 

While these are only some of the improvements that the city has made this past year, Council member Amy Ahanotu mentioned while there is still a lot of work to be done — such as completing the renovation of park bathrooms, Rohnert Park is no longer thought of as that city between Petaluma and Santa Rosa.

“We aren’t that city between Petaluma and Santa Rosa anymore, we’ve achieved a lot this year,” Ahanotu said.

Former Mayor Jake Mackenzie was also presented with a proclamation recognizing Mackenzie’s intrepid five-year run as mayor as well as his decades of commitment to being a public servant starting in 1996, when he was first elected as RP mayor.

Mackenzie said of his run as mayor, “I need to pat myself on the back and ourselves on the back, we’ve done a good job. This used to be a battle field, we had battles over land use, over water supply and transportation… but now we are working together and I am proud to be a part of that.”

When asked if Stafford feels she has big shoes to fill, she said has done this switch in power before, but says Mackenzie’s shoes are big to fill.

“I did it once before, I was vice mayor when he was mayor, but he’s got big shoes. His knowledge is unparalleled, he is a jewel that we have here… and I think he’s the golden standard of how a mayor should be. So he’s got big shoes, but I feel OK about it,” Stafford said.