The business of transition involved hugs and handshakes, cake, and checks to sign as city and county elected officials formally took office on Monday.
The County Board of Commissioners and Hood River City Council held 4:30 and 5 p.m. special meetings Monday for the sole business of swearing in new and returning electees.
The City Council’s first regular meeting of the year has been postponed to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, to avoid a conflict with the Oregon-Ohio State National Championship football game on Jan. 12, announced new Mayor Paul Blackburn, whose wife, Dr. Kristen Dillon, and daughters Althea and Rosalie also attended. Immediately after the meeting, he sequestered with city staff to sign checks.
Said Peter Cornelison, one of three new City Councilors: “I feel a little more weight on my shoulders and I’m standing a little taller to compensate.”
Municipal Judge Will Carey administered the oath of office to City Councilors Susan Johnson, Becky Brun and Peter Cornelison after swearing in Blackburn.
A half-hour earlier, Carey did the same honors with county elected officials, Chairman Ron Rivers and Commissioners Bob Benton and Karen Joplin. All three were re-elected in November without opposition.
Present were Commissioner Les Perkins, Health Department officials Ellen Larson and Mike Matthews, emergency services coordinator Barb Ayers, and Cascade Locks City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman and his wife, Coral, along with City Administrator David Meriwether, legal counsel Lisa Davies, and administrate assistant Sandi Lain.
At City Hall, supporters including Susan Johnson’s father, Tom, visiting from Tucson, Ariz., and returning councilors Kate McBride and Mark Zanmiller watched as the new council members and mayor took the oath. (Councilor Laurent Picard was not present.)
“We had good energy on the last council, but I think we’ll have different energy,” Zanmiller said. “I’m really looking forward to the discussions.’
Asked about what’s next in terms of challenges or chief tasks for City Council, the new officials answered this way:
“The budget is the biggest thing looming. It’s going to be our biggest challenge in this next quarter,” Brun said.
“It feels good. I feel like I’ve been mentally preparing the last months, and clearing my plate of a few other things,” she said.
“We’re going to find out, we’ll be working on a few things. Well see, it’ll be a surprise,” Johnson said.
“I’m really excited. You can tell by the look on my face,” she said.
Cornelison said he enjoyed the council/staff goal-setting session in late 2014, attended by then-council and the electees, pointing to cooperation with the Port, community building, and additional help for the planning staff among the prime goals of the city.
“Eighty percent of the city is stuff that can’t be changed, the ongoing work of the city, but it’s that 20 percent we can influence,” Cornelison said.
“I’m excited to get going. It was such a long process of campaigning but this is what it’s all about. I’m excited to get going and do the work,” he said.
“It’s going to take us all a little awhile to get our feet wet and figure out how the process works,” said Blackburn, who alone among the new officials had served on council, 2004-08.
“I hope we can move forward expeditiously on doing the work of the city,” Blackburn said. “I know many of the incoming folks have agenda items they’re hot to talk about and we’ll begin getting a sense of each other and where we want to go together, because of course the staff runs the city, we give the guidance.”