The Danville Town Council showed its wisdom in having the new Poet Laureate Nancy Fraze perform at the beginning of the 27th annual Mayoral Installation and Community Service Awards.
Fraze's poem, "Timeless Legacy," set the tone for the evening's events, talking about the history of the Town of Danville, how it has changed, and how it continues to grow. The final line, "A town that remembers, and looks to the future," proved to be emblematic of the evening that lay ahead.
The first part of the event was devoted to the past, to Danville residents who have gone above and beyond in service to the town. In front of nearly 100 people at the Danville Community Center, council members and others paid tribute to some of the town's most precious resources.
One such homage left many of those in attendance dabbing at tears. Vice Mayor Newell Arnerich gave a poignant and beautiful speech about Stacey Hartmann. Hartmann, a media specialist for the town of Danville, was lauded for her tireless efforts to raise awareness with regards to ovarian cancer. Hartmann herself is a survivor of cancer and has gone on to hold fundraisers for cancer research as well as work as a spokeswoman on ovarian cancer.
"Stacey has made an extraordinary effort to make sure women and doctors are educated. She has moved and inspired everyone she met over these past eight years by her gift for writing, her ability to inform, and her knowledge of how to reach out to women. Most importantly she has the unique ability to laugh and smile in the face of such deadly consequences," Arnerich stated.
Hartmann, ever-present smile shining brightly, accepted the commendation with characteristic grace, humility and a little humor. "You made my mother cry," she teased Arnerich. Then, more seriously she said, "I've lived this journey the only way I know how, and if that's helped other women that warms my heart. That makes me glad."
In all, 28 groups or individuals received commendations from the town for their work both in the community and outside. Bette Bennett was given the Volunteer of the Year Award for her work as a volunteer on Danville's Senior Program.
Bea Bustamonte and Brian Dunn were recognized for their work with Father Frank's kids, an outreach program for disadvantaged youth in Mexico.
Mayor Candace Andersen took to the podium to bestow the prestigious Danville Award on Larry and Jan Anderson.
"We don't give this award out every year," Andersen said, "but when we have someone who has done something really special we give it out."
The Andersons were the architects of the Danville Community Band, an all-volunteer organization that in the past seven years has grown to be one of the largest of its kind in the East Bay.
After the awards were given out, Town Council members turned their eye to the future, as newly elected incumbents Mike Doyle, Newell Arnerich and Candace Andersen were sworn into office by the Honorable Joseph Golub. The council then elected Arnerich to serve as mayor for the next year, with Mike Doyle elected to serve as vice mayor.
Outgoing Mayor Andersen said she has enjoyed her year in the mayor's seat and feels the town accomplished quite a bit during that time. Accomplishments included celebrating the town's sesquicentennial, setting up more defined guidelines to enhance the downtown, and obtaining ownership of the Veteran's Hall from the county and committing $5 million for its renovation.
"Despite this long list, the Town was able to complete these projects and still come in under budget at the end of our fiscal year," she added.
New Mayor Newell Arnerich could not say enough about his predecessor. "I was excited to be vice mayor because I thought that meant I'd get to fill in from time to time. I never needed to. Candace never missed a thing."
Arnerich said he is looking forward to the coming year because of the committed and caring members of the council as well as the dedicated and talented staff employed by the town. "Our collective approach to governing and providing services for Danville is unparalleled in terms of quality of services and responsiveness to fellow citizens."
He cautioned that with the economy in turmoil there will be challenges, and talked about three things he felt would be most important in the coming year. One of these is taking care of family, friends and the town itself. He said that means shopping in Danville, helping to keep the town's businesses healthy, "instead of taking your business to our neighbor to the north or sorry, Abram, to our neighbors to the south," with a nod to San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson who was in the audience.
Other challenges would come from the state. "The state of California, with its self inflicted economic state of affairs, will present critical challenges to Danville's financial health." He called on residents to remind their legislators that the state's budget woes can't be solved on the backs of local taxpayers at the expense of their communities.
Finally, he said that even with the rough economic seas ahead, the town needs to move forward with its funded and approved capital projects, in order to keep the economy moving forward.
Arnerich expressed confidence and optimism that none of these issues would be insurmountable, and said he approaches the new year with great dreams for the future of Danville.