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Bill-de la Pena named Thousand Oaks mayor
[December 13, 2012]

Bill-de la Pena named Thousand Oaks mayor

Dec 13, 2012 (Ventura County Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Seven years have passed since Thousand Oaks Councilwoman Claudia Bill-de la Pena served as mayor.

On Tuesday night, she was unanimously selected for the yearlong, ceremonial position by the City Council, which also welcomed its newest member, Al Adam.

"Thank you for your patience," Bill-de la Pena said as she settled into the mayor's seat, held by Councilwoman Jacqui Irwin since last December. "It's been a while since I sat here. I have to familiarize myself a little bit." Bill-de la Pena, who was mayor pro tem this year, previously was bypassed in the regular rotation for mayor and mayor pro tem positions at least three times.

Two years ago, council members explained the decision by saying the mayor serves as a city ambassador but Bill-de la Pena does not participate in events outside council meetings. Bill-de la Pena called the move a slap in the face and said other mayors had not attended events. Since then, the mother of two retired as a news producer to be a full-time mom and as a result she has made more public appearances.

At the council's reorganization meeting Tuesday, Bill-de Pena said that as mayor she would make sure there is a level playing field with more transparency and fairness in local government.

She added that she wants to continue to protect seniors and restore funding to the city's open-space endowment, which was cut off years ago because of the recession's toll on the city budget.

Councilman Andy Fox was selected mayor pro tem after Bill-de la Pena's nomination for Adam failed.

Bill-de la Pena was thinking ahead when she nominated Adam, her longtime ally, saying his selection would ensure no incumbent running in 2014 would be mayor -- which would give the person a boost at the polls.

Councilman Joel Price, who was appointed to the council this year, wasn't bothered about being bypassed for mayor pro tem. Before nominating Fox, he said the title should go to someone with experience and time on the council.

Earlier in the meeting, Adam and Irwin, the top two finishers in the Nov. 6 election, were sworn in. For Adam, taking the oath for the first time was the culmination of three runs for the council in the past four years. Irwin was sworn in to her third term.

As the outgoing mayor, Irwin earlier Tuesday presented the State of the City address to 230 people at Los Robles Greens Golf Course.

At the start of the council meeting, she was praised for her service to the community by her council colleagues and local leaders.

Among the presenters was a group of former Thousand Oaks mayors, who gave Irwin a mug and were joined by Karen Glancy. Glancy's husband, Tom, retired from the council in May and died several days later.

Glancy and Dennis Gillette, who retired from the council in March, had seats at the Forum Theatre dedicated to them. Hank and Leah Lacayo, who have been active in many groups and activities, also had seats dedicated in their honor.

Irwin said she was humbled and grateful for voters' support.

Before thanking supporters, including Supervisor Linda Parks, who helped launch his political career, and Bill-de la Pena, Adam said, "It's nice to be here." Several speakers congratulated Irwin and Adam, with one calling the approval of a council term limit measure he wrote a mandate.

Not everyone was happy. John Fonti, a regular council critic, objected to Price serving as mayor pro tem and asked why he has not received a response from the city attorney about campaign finance complaints he filed against Irwin and council candidates Ed Jones and Jim Bruno four days before the election.

On Wednesday, Assistant City Attorney Chris Norman said his office replied twice to Fonti, on Nov. 6 and on Thursday. Norman said he wrote both times that the city does not investigate campaign finance complaints, but residents can submit alleged violations to the Fair Political Practices Commission or Ventura County District Attorney's Office. They also can file suit in civil court.

___ (c)2012 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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