The Danville Town Council ushered in a new era Tuesday night, saying goodbye to outgoing Councilman Mike Doyle after 25 years and welcoming new Councilwoman Lisa Blackwell to the dais.
Council members also selected Renee Morgan to serve as Danville's mayor for 2017 -- the first time for the second-term councilwoman -- and they recognized standout residents who have given back to the town while distributing their annual community awards and recognitions.
And all of it in front of a packed audience of about 250 inside the downtown Village Theatre and Art Gallery for the two-plus-hour ceremony, the 35th annual Mayoral Installation and Community Services Awards event.
“It’s been really good fun, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. And working with people like this, you can’t help but enjoy it,” Doyle told the crowd while reflecting on his six terms on the council.
“I want to thank all of the people I served with on the council and all of the staff members. It is amazing what these people do,” he added. “I just absolutely love this town … We’ve accomplished quite a bit over the 25 years.”
The 87-year-old Doyle, who has served on the council since 1991, decided not to seek a seventh term in office this fall.
“It was not the easiest decision I’ve ever made in my life, to leave this Town Council. But at one time or another, you have to pull the plug and say, ‘I don’t want to end up like some of the old sports figures, baseball players who play one inning too long.’” he said.
Doyle regaled the audience with stories from throughout his time in Danville, from arriving in town for the first time at Elliott’s bar as an Air Force staff sergeant in 1952 to winning his first election by 68 votes to recapping some of his favorite accomplishments while on the council.
“I want to thank the community for allowing me to be a part of this,” he added.
Each of the council members also spoke for a few minutes about Doyle’s impact on them and the town he so often affectionately refers to as “Camelot.”
“He simply does it his own way, but always with a smile on his face and honesty and integrity in his heart. He loves this community and this wonderful Camelot that he has shaped,” seven-year Councilman Robert Storer said.
“Mike is very proud of his heritage and one of the things Mike always talks about is being Irish … I want you to know that you are Danville’s four-leaf clover. You are the luckiest thing that happened to Danville,” Morgan added.
The public recognition of Doyle took place about midway through Tuesday’s ceremony, and he remained on the dais until the award presentations ended. He quietly walked off the Village Theatre stage about two hours into the event, as Blackwell approached to take the oath of office.
Blackwell, Morgan and Councilman Newell Arnerich were sworn in by Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Nancy D. Stark.
The trio were appointed by the council in August to serve four-year terms beginning Tuesday, with the council deciding to forgo a November election after only three candidates filed for three available seats.
The new term is the sixth straight for Arnerich and the second consecutive for Morgan.
Blackwell is the council newcomer, a 30-year Danville resident who served the past three years on the town's Parks and Leisure Services Commission as well as nearly two decades volunteering with San Ramon Valley school district.
“We’re here because we love Danville,” Blackwell said to the audience Tuesday.
“We chose to live in Danville because of the great schools and because of the safe streets and because of the cute town and now because it’s the restaurant mecca of the East Bay. But many of us have stayed in Danville and we’ve stayed in Danville because of its parks and its compassion for everyone,” she said, adding:
“And I’m just looking forward to giving back to this community that’s given so much to us.”
In its only business, the newly seated council voted unanimously to name Morgan to serve as Danville’s mayor for 2017 and Arnerich to sit as vice mayor for the next year.
“I’d like to say that right now we all stand together to say, ‘This is our town, and we are united and resolved to maintain Danville as a great community,’” said Morgan, who has served on the council since 2012.
“I’d like you to know that I am standing alongside of you passionate about this town and about this community,” she added. “And I am standing up here this evening so proud to be your mayor.”
The new mayor's comments closed the ceremony, that earlier on featured nearly 30 residents and groups honored as part of the Town Council's annual Community Service Awards presentation.
The Danville Award
Local veteran Jerry Yahiro was honored with the evening's top award for his dedication and extensive service to the veterans' community.
Councilwoman Karen Stepper, who presented the award to Yahiro, singled out his efforts with the Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley, the San Ramon Valley Veterans Memorial Building and most notably, his leadership since 1998 with East Bay Stand Down, a four-day event for to help homeless, needy and displaced veterans receive vital services.
Awards of Merit
* Jaden Andres, an eighth-grader at Charlotte Wood Middle School, for her leadership and participation as a volunteer in the town's Counselor in Training Summer Day Camp Program and her extensive volunteer commitment to local charity organizations.
* Matt Roderick and Vince Richards, Danville Police Department school resource officers, for their tireless efforts to build rapport with the students in Danville and their commitment to creating positive relationships between the schools, community and the police department.
* Eagle Scout leadership, for their longstanding commitment to serving the community and organizing Eagle Scout service projects that benefit the town.
* Dean Langston and Ashley Provost, Coats and Cocktails, for creating an annual event and organizing volunteers to collect thousands of coats that are distributed to people in need.
Michael K. Shimansky Community Service Award
High school student Sarah Vawter received the youth award handed out each year in honor of Shimansky, who died in 2009 during his tenure on the council.
Vawter was recognized for being an energetic, enthusiastic and helpful community service volunteer, giving her time to the San Ramon Regional Medical Center and the Animal Rescue Foundation. He also played a significant role in San Ramon Valley High School's "Every 15 Minutes" program.
Volunteers of the Year
Town Volunteer of the Year: Nicholas Crisosto was honored for volunteering 32 times for more than 80 hours in Danville since March 2015.
An Alameda resident who also serves in the National Guard, Crisosto was lauded for being cheerful, helpful and willing to tackle any volunteer assignment, including Senior Center events, Kid's Night Out, craft prep and overseeing food at large town youth events.
Parks and Leisure Services Commission Volunteer of the Year: The Chevron Corp. Week of Caring Program was recognized for painting fences at Diablo Vista and Oak Hill parks. Chevron has volunteered in Danville for its caring week for the past three years, with 158 people participating.
Seven employee groups have spent 448 hours painting fences and 27 hours cleaning the Danville Community Center's art room and kitchen, town officials said.
Arts Commission Volunteer of the Year: Florence McAuley was honored for her dedication to the Eugene O'Neill Foundation Tao House since the 1980s and 40 years of leadership in arts and education in Danville.
As a member of the Danville-Alamo AAUW (American Association of University Women), she created the "Art in the Trunk" program do deliver art supplies and lesson plans to San Ramon Valley schools. She has also served on the Danville Arts Council, as Museum of the San Ramon Valley president and on the Role Players Ensemble board.
The council also recognized residents for reaching milestone anniversary of service on town commissions, boards and councils.
Kevin Donovan led the way with 20 years of service on the Parks and Leisure Services Commission.
Councilman Robert Storer (Town Council, Planning Commission) and Celeste Evans (Arts Commission) received 16-year recognition.
The other recipients were Morgan (Town Council, Planning Commission) and Lee Halverson (Planning Commission) for 12 years, Paul Radich (Planning Commission) for eight years, and Julie Graves (Design Review Board), David Stephenson (Heritage Resource Commission), Archie Bowles (Planning Commission) and Andrew Verriere (Planning Commission) for four years of service.
The council also recognized outgoing commissioners Blackwell (Parks and Leisure Services), Graves (Design Review), Stephenson (Heritage Resource), Megan Spencer (Arts), Rick Hansen (Heritage Resource) and Jared Wong (Parks and Leisure Services) on the end of their commission tenures.
Boy Scout Troop 803, with scoutmaster Steve Giampaoli, posted the colors and led the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Robby McHale played "To the Color" on the bugle.
Danville high school student Avery Chapman followed by singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Rev. Ron Dunn, lead pastor at San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church, led the invocation.
Midway through the ceremony, Danville poet laureate Elaine Betts read aloud an original poem marking the occasion, "Danville Pride."
A video-recording of the ceremony is set to run on Contra Costa Television (community access TV channel 26 on Comcast and channel 99 on AT&T/U-Verse) several times throughout the month starting on Dec. 15. For program times, visit the CCTV website.