Monday, December 3, 2007

Bennett appointed new Goleta mayor

photo: Janelle Holcombe
Former Goleta Mayor Jean Blois hands newly appointed Mayor Michael Bennett a box of hair dye, saying the job as the city's top official may spur the onset of gray hair.


The rotating position of mayor in the City of Goleta did just that last night when the city council appointed Councilman Michael T. Bennett as its seventh mayor with a unanimous vote.
Bennett took the gavel from now former Mayor Jean Blois, who will celebrate her 80th birthday today and completed her second term as mayor since the city’s incorporation in 2002.

Because the mayoral position in Goleta rotates and is not an elected seat, Bennett noted that it is more ceremonial than managerial, but he hopes to begin making progress on improving conditions in Old Town Goleta during his term as the city’s top political figure.
“I’m really trying to get Old Town off dead center,” Bennett said shortly after becoming mayor. “I would really like to see that move forward.”
While Blois received a large thank you card from city staff, she handed Bennett an informational paper on how to conduct a public meeting and had this advice: “You may notice that you’ll have a few more gray hairs.”
After Bennett responded that he couldn’t get much grayer than he already is, Blois handed him a box of hair dye.
Bennett joked that this was the second time he has been appointed, and or elected mayor. The first came in 1993 when the majority of Goleta residents voted against incorporation, but Bennett won the mayoral race against four other men. Had city hood been established at that time, he would have been the city’s first mayor. He said about 34 percent of the electorate voted for him then.
During the past year, Bennett has served as mayor pro tempore, which is essentially the vice mayor.
At last night’s meeting, Councilman Eric Onnen nominated Councilman Roger Aceves to act as mayor pro tempore under Bennett. The nomination was approved with a unanimous vote.
Aceves said he is pleased with the progress the city has made in the past year since he, Onnen and Bennett unseated three incumbents and were elected to the council.
He said he is especially proud to have negotiated a new contract with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, which provides law enforcement to the city. Aceves said he is also proud of the city’s efforts to begin the process of amending its General Plan, which was a hot button issue for each of the three councilman’s campaigns in 2006.
“As a council member I couldn’t be more pleased,” Aceves said. “We’re moving forward. It’s just an exciting time.”

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