12/05/2006: "At Last: A Full County Council"
(Howie Rosenfeld, Rich Peterson, and Gene Knapp receive oath of office from Si Stephens)
The County Council is now running at full power; well, maybe not quite up to speed just quite yet, but after Auditor Si Stephens swore in the three new County Councilmen in front of a packed council chambers, it became evident the new members were not shy, had opinions and were willing to share them with their more seasoned colleagues.
In his introductory remarks prior to the swearing in ceremony, Si stated that he was "Proud to be part of this great and historic experiment of the Charter" and expressed his opinion that the "actions of you three will have a huge impact on success or failure" of the Charter. SI said be believed the three of them possessed the "wisdom, an ability to engage in open and thoughtful deliberations, integrity, and had the enthusiasm" necessary to do the job.
After 24 years as the SJC Auditor, Si also was in a position to list what he believed were four of the main challenges they would face, and at the top of the list were the "problems caused by continued growth and urbanization, and the issue of State and Federal requirements and mandates that impact the County; the need to for protection and improvement of the environment; and last but not least, "oversee the efficient and proper level of governmental service to your constituents".
After Si administered the oath of office, Councilman Rich Peterson told the audience that he would work to meet the expectations of the new Charter, and thanked everyone for their support and continuing help. Councilman Howie Rosenfeld thanked the gathered group that had given them a standing ovation at the end of the ceremony, and said that he "hoped that as the months and years pass there will still be the same enthusiasm for their actions" Former Prosecution Attorney, Freeholder, and now Councilman Gene Knapp, said he "hoped their actions would speak louder than their words".
With that the six Councilmen sat down to business, and after a short "staff meeting" started on the days (Agenda), which included a dissuasion item of where the Council would sit.
It was decided that the Council would abandon their elevated dais and sit at the same level as the public, since, as Councilman Peterson said "it can be intimidating to be sitting higher that the people who come to see us", to which Councilman Knapp agreed, adding "we are not any better than the people". Councilman Ranker was concerned that there may not be sufficient room for public if the Council were to move to the main floor and sit around tables, but in the end it was agreed to leave their elevated station.