Marina’s new mayor, one of three Green city leaders in the state, pushes an ambition agenda.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Marina City Manager Tony Altfeld leans back in his chair and buries his face in his hand. It’s 10:15 p.m. The earlier energy and enthusiasm that filled the City Council chambers for Mayor Bruce Delgado’s swearing in on Dec. 16 has faded. Altfeld, along with councilmen Dave McCall and Jim Ford, want to go home, but Delgado has saved a multi-faceted item for last.
Delgado wants seven meaty discussions on future agendas, from mobile-home rent stabilization to alternatives to the California Public Employment Retirement System (CalPERS) and budget deficits in Landscape Assessment Districts. Altfeld wakes from his slumber once McCall suggests the city should notify everyone in the district when that item is scheduled.
“Things are getting fast and furious around here,” Altfeld says sharply. “If we are putting an agenda item to simply discuss landscape districts… we are not going to go out and mail notices.” After some back and forth, the council manages to pass a motion to schedule the items on future dates.
In November Delgado defeated Gary Wilmot, vowing to curb deficit spending, increase public participation and push downtown revitalization. Perhaps his first night on the job wasn’t the best time to play several cards on his ambitious agenda.
Earlier in the meeting, staff gave the council a status report on the city’s budget at Delgado’s request. While the report revealed some new oversights, the bulk of revenues haven’t arrived yet; staff said it was too early to get a pulse on money problems.
Getting his laundry list on the agenda is one thing. Building consensus on the issues will be tougher challenge for Delgado. At Delgado’s first meeting behind the gavel, a 3-2 split emerges. The two more conservative-minded councilmen, McCall and Ford, ironically seated to Delgado’s right, support the traditional location for the council and city manager’s upcoming retreat. The more progressive councilmen, Ken Gray and newly elected Frank O’Connell, follow Delgado’s lead.
Still, Delgado attempts to build bridges during his swearing-in speech. He trades jokes with Wilmot and even acknowledges former mayor Ila Mettee-McCutchon, to whom he lost a mayoral bid in 2004. “I hope to become the best team player I can,” he says.
Delgado, one of three Green Party mayors in the state, wants to steer Marina in a more sustainable direction than the old guard. He expects to sign environmental accords such as the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and pursue a Styrofoam and plastic-bag ban. He also wants to focus dense development in the downtown area and push alternative energy in the project that replaces Cypress Knolls on Fort Ord.
“We’d like to go as green as we can,” Delgado said. But this vision may only be realized once his mayoral greenness rubs off.