December 17, 2008 > Union City Mayor Mark Green and Councillor Jim Navarro Sworn In
Union City Mayor Mark Green and Councillor Jim Navarro Sworn In
By Simon Wong
Following the re-election of Mark Green and Jim Navarro as Mayor and Council Member, respectively, in the General Municipal Election on November 4, both took the Oath of Office at the Council Meeting on December 9, 2008.
Jim Navarro was sworn in by Father Anthony Vazhappilly from St. James Catholic Church, Fremont.
Before his acceptance speech, Councillor Navarro presented his wife, Pamela, with flowers in appreciation of her support.
"It has been my privilege to serve you as your Councilman for the past four years. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to serve you once again. During those four years of office we witnessed the largest economic surge followed quickly by a drastic recession. The rollercoaster ride has shown the importance of having a government that can be flexible and respond quickly to these challenges. We are a strong, resilient City and this has never been more evident than in the past four years. Our Staff has much to do with that success and I want to acknowledge them for a job well-done. The people at City Hall are the people who make the City work.
"Last but not least, the dedicated members of the Council who care so much about the future of this City and its citizens - Mayor Mark Green, Carol Dutra-Vernaci, Richard Valle and Vice-Mayor Manny Fernandez. Thank you.
"Our accomplishments far outweigh the disappointments. Working together, we have made lasting improvements to our City. Together, we opened Union City Sports Center, offering our residents programs and equipment that rival those in many privately-owned facilities. We won approval for the East-West Connector (Highway 84) realignment that will relieve traffic congestion. We broke ground on BART Station renovations in Phase 1 of the Station Intermodal District. We balanced our budget with a prudent cash reserve that allows us to plan strategically for future funding needs and to increase public-safety staffing. We opened Dry Creek Park including a new all-weather sports field for our youth. We opened Flight 93 Memorial Park so that we may never forget those who fought for our freedom. We joined the ICLPI Global Climate Change Program and became one of the first local governments to commit to a strategy that combats global warming, promotes solid-waste sustainability and protects our environment. The recent new cable TV franchise agreement has secured $100,000 from Comcast for the development of James Logan High School's video production studio.
"We have obtained a solid waste and recycling franchise agreement and increased community recycling to an all-time high in Union City. We brought the Civil Marriage Program to City Hall. We approved the opening of Chabot Las Positas Community College. Last but not least, our citizens overwhelmingly passed the Measure UU Public Safety Parcel Tax.
"But there is more work to be done. In my next term as your Councilman, I shall remain focused on our highest priorities. I shall insist on City government that is accessible, responsive and fair to all Union City residents. I shall resist and stand up to those forces that threaten our quality of life. I shall continue to improve public safety and to create beautiful neighborhoods for our children and families. I shall vote for initiatives that are fiscally and environmentally responsible so that we have the resources to constantly improve our services to residents. I shall support the business community and encourage new companies to establish a presence in Union City.
"Thomas Jefferson said 'We, in America, do not have a Government by the majority; we have a Government but the majority participates'. Everyone, who participates in the process, from elected officials to residents and citizens, who put in time, fulfils a role in our democracy. I hope our residents will take an interest in the government that most directly affects their everyday lives.
"I will be forever grateful to you for electing me once again and shall cherish the time and accomplishments that we have shared together. I look forward to the future of our great City. Thank you," concluded Councillor Navarro.
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty addressed the Chamber before swearing in Mayor Mark Green.
"It is a great honor for a Supervisor to be invited to swear in a mayor. That creates a bond between me and the mayor. Mayor Green has done this in the past and it has worked for us. When I reflect on his successes, I attribute them to his ability to build relationships and to get his point across.
"Mark has been extremely successful for the City of Union City. In the last few years, his accomplishments include Chairmanship of ACTA/ACTIA, current Chairmanship of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency and Vice-Presidency of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Hopefully, one day, he will become President [of ABAG] and be able to appoint someone to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) which is extremely important to Union City. The MTC is the source of funding for transportation projects.
"It has been a very successful time for Union City with Mark, Mayor Green, in the leadership position. I've enjoyed working with him. I consider this an honor. I hope that the residents of Union City understand how much money he has been able to bring back. Supported by his Council, he goes out to these regional bodies, faces tough decisions and fights the fight for Union City. He has brought back ten times more money than any other city of a comparable size as Union City," pointed out Supervisor Haggerty.
"Union City is extremely fortunate that you have been re-elected," he concluded.
"I would like to talk about the Measure UU Campaign. Everyone worked tirelessly. The Campaign was a tribute to the citizens of Union City who realized that their own interests overlap and are congruent with the City's overall interests. We were able to increase voter-approval of this Measure by just over 11% to 73% after the June 2008 Measure K failed to pass, after a split vote by the Council on the terms of the parcel tax Measure that should appear on the November 2008 ballot and in the midst of a severe economic downturn. The Union City Citizens for Public Safety steering committee did a great job; the Campaign was well-executed. Union City voters saw that it was in their best interests to vote for Measure UU.
"We had thirty-one polling stations. There was two-thirds' voter approval for the public safety parcel tax in twenty-six precincts. Twenty-four saw voter approval of 70% or more. Fourteen, more than 75% in favour. Tropics, Seven Hills, Central Park West and Contempo all returned an 80% 'Yes' vote or higher. Last time the difference between the eastern and western sides of town was significant but narrowed to 3% in November 2008.
"We had a voter-registration drive. In August, we had twenty-eight thousand. By Election Day, we had thirty thousand. The campaign trail is always interesting. One meets new people and renews acquaintances and old friendships on a door-by-door basis. I'd wake up Barry Ferrier, or other members of his household, with information for the Campaign's website that he built and maintained. We had a great turnout across our diverse community. The Sikh community showed tremendous support. I want to thank Gary Singh for all the work that he did.
"I hope Staff doesn't think I shall coast for the next four years. This is 'professional government' and we must press on. There are the equestrian center, improvements in the Horney-Veasy area, and faŤade improvements at Four Corners. Old Alvarado has not reached its maturity.
"There are important issues, of which Supervisor Haggerty is aware, on the eastern side of town, viz. the Intermodal Station, acquisition of right of way from Union Pacific Railroad, getting Dumbarton Rail moving. We are delighted that Santa Clara County passed the Measure B 1/8th cent Transportation Sales Tax. Make no mistake that Union City will benefit tremendously from BART entering Santa Clara County. We need the East-West Connector to avoid worse traffic on Decoto Road.
"Currently, there is a moratorium on staff recruitment. Nevertheless, grant funding is available for construction, with which we must proceed, even if we cannot add staff. That's the reality. There may be opportunities on Mission Blvd, say, for an aquatic complex. We need to finish the new fire station and make a start on the police sub-station in the Alvarado District.
"We constantly examine ways to improve and increase service. The City of Newark is looking at Union City to streamline matters. Fiscally, we are responsible. Measure UU was needed to maintain public safety and provide something for the City's youth. We shall continue to manage our finances responsibly," concluded the Mayor.
Carol Dutra-Vernaci succeeds Manny Fernandez as Union City's new Vice-Mayor.
Mark Green, Jim Navarro and Carol Dutra-Vernaci have the distinction of being sworn in or appointed on the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Milton, author of the epic poem Paradise Lost and mini-epic Paradise Regained.