The San Ramon City Council welcomed back two elected officials and a third new face to its ranks during a special swearing-in ceremony at City Hall on Tuesday evening.
During the ceremony, city officials swore in returning Councilman Dave Hudson and new Councilwoman Sabina Zafar to the council, as well as Mayor Bill Clarkson, who has been re-elected to a fourth and final term as the city’s top elected official.
“San Ramon’s a pretty good city. In fact you can forget the campaign rhetoric San Ramon is a good city,” Hudson said after taking his oath. “It's been five years since I've done the last oath of office and a lot of people have retired, but I can tell you that a lot of good people have moved in and replaced them … And we have not lowered our standards one bit.”
Councilman Hudson -- who had memorized the oath of office -- won re-election during the Nov. 6 general election, officially making him the longest tenured elected official in San Ramon’s history.
Having already served for 21 years, including tenures as mayor and vice mayor, Hudson will have served the city for a quarter of a century by the time his current term expires. San Ramon has no term limits for council members, but mayors are limited to four two-year terms.
Hudson spoke briefly during the ceremony, and reinforced priorities he listed while campaigning, chief among these were support for City Center Bishop Ranch and the installation of a pedestrian and bike bridge crossing over Bollinger Canyon Road.
“We need to think about land-use decisions the way it is going to be, not the way it has been,” he added.
Hudson also took time to welcome his new colleague Zafar to the council, highlighting the excitement of a new face on the council.
“I’m a little overwhelmed but wanted to thank all of you for coming in,” she told the packed crowd that extended into the entryway of the City Council Chambers. “I wanted to say thank you to my family for making the long trip and coming out here… I look forward to working with you all.”
This was Zafar’s second run at the council, having previously lost her campaign for a seat in 2016, placing third behind councilmen Scott Perkins and Phil O’Loane.
While campaigning this year Zafar, a tech executive, stated her key priorities would be, the promotion of local business, reducing traffic congestion through upgrades to existing infrastructure, and perhaps her most vocal objective, open space preservation.
Zafar, who was born and raised in Pakistan, is the first woman of color to serve on the council since the city’s incorporation in 1983.
“I am truly humbled by the out pour of love and support, the messages, emails and phone calls the last couple of days. And I am so honored to be elected as a council member to the San Ramon City Council,” Zafar said in an message to supporters. “Now the real work begins.”
Clarkson also spoke about his plans and priorities for the city, but took time to thank his biggest supporter.
“The most important thing I have to share this evening is to thank my wife. She didn’t choose this gig but sometimes, many times, experiences what is going on,” he said. “I want to say how much I appreciate what you have to put up with and you do have to put up with a lot.”
After giving thanks to his wife and supporters, Clarkson previewed his vision for the next two years, with his top priority being the further development of City Center and the surrounding region into the emerging downtown area residents crave.
“In the next month you are going to see a series of new stores and restaurants and other things come online, but keep in mind the City Center is only a part of the emerging downtown of San Ramon,” he said.
Final election results from the Contra Costa County Elections Department show that all three officials won their contests by comfortable margins.
In the race for the two available City Council seats, Hudson led the way with 15,148 votes for 35.57%, followed by Zafar, a former member of the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee, who earned the second available seat with 11,541 for 27.1% of votes.
The pair defeated parks commissioner Sridhar Verose, who was in the third spot with 8,240 or 19.35%, and Aparna Madireddi, a small business and community volunteer, who rounded out the ballot with 7,663 or 17.99%.
Clarkson dominated the polls in his quest for a fourth term as mayor, earning 20,219 votes for a total of 75.03%, while political newcomer and engineer Sanat Sethy, the lone challenger, trailed at a distant second holding down 6,730 votes for 24.97%
The meeting also served as the last for departing councilman Harry Sachs, who decided to not run for re-election in order to spend more time with his family and to focus on his teaching career.
In addition to Sachs' departure, longtime city clerk Renee Beck announced that Tuesday would mark her last meeting as she is set to retire by the year’s end. Plans have been put in place for her to be succeeded by Christina Franco, who currently serves as deputy city clerk.