Gilmore, Bonta, Tam and Johnson sworn in
By Rin Kelly
Marie Gilmore’s first act as mayor was to tell the festive standing-room-only crowd at Tuesday’s council swearing-in that “before we get in trouble with the fire marshal” some celebrants might have to move into an overflow room. A crush of friends, family and supporters of Gilmore and new Vice Mayor Rob Bonta filled council chambers for the meeting, lining the walls shoulder-to-shoulder with members of the League of Women Voters, City of Alameda Democratic Club, and the firefighters and commercial food workers unions.
Gilmore, wearing a celebratory corsage on her arm, drew cheers from the crowd, thanking her supporters, family, and her husband, Rodney. “I feel truly blessed not only to be married to such a wonderful individual but I also feel truly blessed by the trust and the confidence that the city of Alameda has placed in me,” she said.
Bonta, who took the oath of office to enormous applause and a whoop of “Viva Bonta!” from campaign volunteer Rudy Rabago, thanked his supporters, family, and parents, who he championed for their history of political engagement dating back to their work with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers of America. The chamber burst into applause once more when Bonta’s name was called in roll call for the first time and when Beverly Johnson officially nominated him as vice mayor.
“Thank you for promoting in me the value of public service,” he said.
Assemblyman Sandré Swanson and outgoing Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker also attended the meeting to honor the mayoral service of Beverly Johnson and outgoing Councilman Frank Matarrese, presenting each with commendations for their accomplishments. Congressman Pete Stark sent his own commendations from Washington.
Johnson will remain on the City Council, completing the last two years of Gilmore’s unexpired term. Matarrese, who failed in a mayoral bid of his own, will leave the dais but joked in his emotional farewell remarks that with his Tuesdays now free he is “going to watch you guys on TV – from the comfort of my home.”
Matarrese’s dais-mates paid tribute to his service on the Economic Development Commission, Planning Board and City Council, which has counted him as a member since 2002. Councilman Doug deHaan said the city owes Matarrese a “debt of gratitude” and mourned the “loss of one of the more knowledgeable people on the council at this point.”
It was one of the more pointed comments of the night, though when asked in an interview deHaan said he simply meant that he will miss Matarrese’s “institutional memory,” though he believes that Bonta is “catching up quickly.”
Amidst the largely cheerful proceedings, the evening’s most pointed moment belonged to newly re-elected Councilwoman Lena Tam, who earlier this month billed the city $44,000 for legal fees incurred defending herself in a city staff-instigated investigation into whether she leaked confidential information to developer SunCal and others.
“Alameda city government is one of laws and not of individual ambitions or agendas,” Tam said, vowing that she would devote her term to “restoring the golden rule.”