The newly reorganized Tracy City Council held its first meeting Tuesday, and on its first vote, selection of the Mayor Pro Tempore, the council is already divided on a 3-2 split.

Tuesday’s 2-hour special meeting at Tracy City Hall included the routine swearing in of the winners of the November election. Mayor Nancy Young begins her second 2-year term as the head of the council, Councilman Dan Arriola begins his second 4-year term, and newly-elected Councilman Dan Evans took the oath of office as well.

Each took the opportunity to talk about the campaign and election and their respective visions for the city, and there was also time dedicated to appreciation of outgoing Mayor Pro Tem Veronica Vargas. Her 8 years on the council were marked by involvement on a variety of city, county and state-level committees, including most recently serving as the chair of the Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority, the agency planning the new Valley Link commuter rail line between Lathrop and Pleasanton.

Valley Link Executive Director Kevin Sheridan was on-hand to present Vargas with a couple of awards, including the rail authority’s Golden Spike in recognition of her leadership on the authority’s board of directors. Young also read a long list detailing Vargas’ involvement in the community and at various levels of government.

When it came time to select a new Mayor Pro Tempore for the next 2 years the meeting started to get contentious.

Endorsements for Arriola came in from a procession of nine speakers, including former Councilwoman Rhodesia Ransom and from Vargas.

“I had an opportunity to know the caliber of Mr. Arriola’s dedication, hard work, intelligence and ability to understand the job at hand,” Vargas said. “He is the senior person, but he did not take that for granted. He understands that this job takes a lot of hard work, open mindedness and the ability to bring people together, and that is the key.”

William Muetzenberg, who ran for council, also recommended Arriola for the position.

“I just believe that having received over 9,000 votes, which is the second highest of all local candidates (after Young) who ran for office there is a local mandate that supports Mr. Arriola for this position,” he said.

City Clerk Adrianne Richardson added that she received four email messages supporting Councilman Mateo Bedolla for the position.

Young made the motion to appoint Arriola as Mayor Pro Tem, citing his four years as a proactive council member who has provided leadership on the city’s Homeless Advisory Committee, as the new chairman of the East Bay Community Energy board of directors, and for leadership on the city’s social equity and diversity policy, and fiscal sustainability policy.

“It’s not about someone stepping in my shoes and being able to follow what Nancy Young would do, but being able to step into the mayoral role and to carry the city forward,” Young said.

“He’s very professional. He shows extreme leadership. He is just someone that can get the job done.”

Arriola seconded the motion, but before the council could take a vote, Bedolla proposed a substitute motion, first nominating himself, for which he could not get a second from any of the other council members, then nominating Evans, who declined the nomination, and then nominating Councilwoman Eleassia Davis.

Bedolla added that he felt the comments from speakers at Tuesday’s meeting were not representative of the community.

“We all know the select few that are here, I respect you all, but it’s a very small representation of the community, where we’re not polling everybody. We have to make our best judgement as elected officials to be able to come together,” he said.

Young criticized the move, stating that it effectively divides the council at the start of a new term.

“Thank you so much for showing me so very clearly exactly the growth that is needed for us to move forward as a council,” she told Bedolla.

Evans said that he could support any of his council colleagues for the Mayor Pro Tem position, but then singled out Davis for his endorsement.

“Council Member Davis is at every single event, every single ribbon cutting. She’s there. I’ve been paying attention. I’ve been at these events,” he said.

City Attorney Bijal Patel told the council that it must first consider Bedolla’s substitute motion before Young’s original motion, and Bedolla’s motion passed 3-2, with Davis and Evans also voting in favor and Young and Arriola opposed.

• Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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