Oakley, fortunately, is not ruled by a monarchy, so there was much less pomp to the circumstances at Tuesday night's historic first City Council meeting in the new council chambers in which Mayor Everywhere was replaced with the Grandpa Mayor.
The outgoing (in more ways than one) Mayor Kevin Romick's year-long tenure in which he attended every meeting, civic event, social function, celebration, festival, creek cleanup, ribbon cutting and groundbreaking it was possible for a mayor to attend was celebrated with gifts and encomiums from fellow council members, a business person and County Supervisor Federal Glover.
Romick, who was still running the show at the beginning of the meeting, announced an adjournment for refreshments in the City Hall lobby. He forgot one thing, however: the swearing in of the new Mayor Bruce Connelley. That prompted joking comments from some in the audience of about 75 that Romick was trying to hold onto the reins of power for another year.
But Connelley, a proud first-time grandfather who dubbed himself the Grandpa Mayor, was dutifully sworn in, along with Carol Rios as Vice Mayor. Presiding over the swearing in was Superior Court Judge Jeff Huffaker, a former Oakley City councilman and mayor.
Romick led off the proceedings with a speech in which he listed many of the accomplishments of the last year, starting with the fact that the first council meeting in the spacious new council chambers at the expanded City Hall had just taken place. The council had been meeting in the cramped library at Delta Vista Middle School.
"But if I stopped with just the council chambers I would shortchange all of the other accomplishments we've had this year," said Romick.
He noted that the police department, which added three officers last year, bringing the total force to 27, will be relocating soon to its much more spacious digs in City Hall, and that Civic Plaza includes the Black Bear Diner (with a tentative opening date in mid-February) and a downtown park.
"We've done quite a bit with our road system," Romick continued.
Empire and Laurel roads have been widened, much of Main Street was repaved, the Highway 4 Bypass is scheduled to open in the next week or two, and traffic signals have been added at Carol Lane and Live Oak Road, Carpenter Road and Empire Avenue, Neroly Road and Empire Avenue, Brown and Carpenter roads, and at O'Hara Avenue and Neroly Road.
Romick, who came to prominence in his pre-council days with his championing of the residents in west Oakley, who were in the Antioch School District but didn't have their own school, noted that the district "finally provided a home for the Oakley Orphans, opening up a neighborhood school, Orchard Park, on Live Oak Road."
Romick also said the city had "a banner year" in park openings, including parks with names like Nutmeg, Holiday Creek, Live Oak and Magnolia. Dewey and Creekside parks are currently under construction, and the city has received $540,000 for park facilities at Lizard and Teakwood parks. In addition, the Delta Science Center opened a fishing pier to the public last year.
Romick listed several businesses that opened their doors in Oakley in 2007, including Pompeii Nursery, Fed/Ex Kinko's, Kit 'n Kaboodle, Ace Hardware, Kragen's, Arco AM/PM, Oak Tree Embroidery "and finally our own Starbucks." More are on the way with the development of River Oaks Crossing, Oakley Station, the Spare Time athletic club and Paul's Automotive Center, he said.
"All of these accomplishments would not have happened if not for city staff," said Romick. "As council members we can provide direction, shake hands, kiss babies, give witty comments. But it takes a great staff to implement our vision. We as a city have been blessed with a great staff. Thank you for your support and all of the hard work you have done.
"2008 looks just as busy as 2007. We get to decide where to spend nearly $20 million worth of redevelopment bonds. A decision on how best to provide fire service to the citizens of Oakley will be made in the year ahead of us. The Wal-Mart and Home Depot applications will make their way through the approval process. The Farmers' Market and First Friday (concerts) will return downtown. And the Fourth of July and Cityhood Celebration (will happen again) this summer.
"Mr. Connelley, strap on your seatbelt and get ready for a very exciting year."
Connelley made a much shorter speech, which did not outline his vision for the coming year but did acknowledge that he has big shoes to fill.
"Kevin has been all over town" in his year as mayor, said Connelley. "He's going to be a tough act to follow. Rarely is there a mayor that's 100-percent mayor. I'm now the last of the five (council members) that have become mayor. They have all been 100-percent mayor in spirit and activity, but to make the amount of meetings he's made - I'll be surprised if I make most of that or even come close.
"It's going to be an active year. I'm excited about the agendas and what the city staff is doing. I'm really proud of the staff that we have. During the tree lighting ceremony the spirit the staff had was overwhelming. Our City Manager, Bryan Montgomery, is the core reason why we have accomplished so much in the space of a couple of years."
And with that, the meeting was adjourned for refreshments and congratulations.