Procter: Tenacious problem solver not running for third Council term

August 13, 2008
Santa Paula News

As a councilman and mayor, John Procter was known for tenacious but diplomatic problem solving, but now he is bidding goodbye to City Council service and moving on to the next chapter in his life.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesAs a councilman and mayor, John Procter was known for tenacious but diplomatic problem solving, but now he is bidding goodbye to City Council service and moving on to the next chapter in his life. Procter announced he is not running for a third Council term; he will formally step down in December when new Council members are sworn into office.First elected to the Council in 2000, Procter, a city native, said the hiring of City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz in late 2002 was a highlight of his community service. “The best decision, I will say without hesitation, was hiring Wally... the best thing that’s happened to Santa Paula,” said Procter.Procter said his “hardest decision” as a councilman was “letting Phil Romney go... it made me feel sick at heart.” The late attorney “was a great, great guy, but was a victim of the ever-increasing complexity of municipal government, which was getting beyond the reach of a sole practitioner.”Saving the city about $8 million in state fines that resulted from years of polluting discharges released into the river by the city’s aging wastewater treatment plant is seen by Procter as a top achievement. “Wally and I came up with an audacious, but honest and forthright plan that actually worked!” after protracted negotiations between the state Regional Water Quality Control Board and Procter, then the city’s Mayor.Procter said he also credits Councilman Dr. Gabino Aguirre. “He was my ‘wingman’ at that meeting and an integral part of our success” in applying the multi-million dollar fine to a new water recycling facility.His proudest achievement came as mayor, “seeing my primary goal of Council harmony come to fruition. I most certainly did not do it alone, but that’s what gives me the greatest satisfaction looking back on my eight years.”
Another top ranked issue tackled by Procter and the Council was the “reopening of Santa Paula Hospital. I could hang my hat on this alone, just for being part of the process,” as well as the “historic joint meeting I called with Fillmore City Council to shine a light on the hospital situation.”Televising Council meetings for wider public awareness of city government, providing Spanish translation for Council and other meetings and events, and the initiation of Council goal setting are also seen by Procter as accomplishments. “I pushed hard” on Council goal setting, a process that “was not being done when I came on the Council,” and initially, “was met with great resistance” when the process was first proposed.Procter was also greatly interested in and advocated higher technology and expanding citizen awareness and participation. That included “pushing Wally on technology issues and his incredible ability to respond to my nagging as he developed a city website, and later the nation’s first city Blog... which I renamed the ‘Flog’” as a wry acknowledgement of the sometimes cantankerous posts and debates between bloggers.Overall, Procter said that his elected community service has been “an incredible ride and learning experience. I really had to reinvent myself. It’s been a true honor serving this great city.”And for those who follow Procter to Council service, he wishes them the best and some advice: “I will offer one pearl of wisdom I picked up quite early on: it’s a lot different on the inside looking out than on the outside looking in. You no longer have the ‘armchair general’ luxury of opinions without consequences. The huge sense of responsibility really begets a more cautious and reasoned approach to issues.”A good analogy, he added is “that of parenthood. It’s one thing to give parental advice, but quite another to live with the consequences of your decisions forever.”Overall, Procter said he is “looking forward to the next chapter in my life, but I’m not going away. I intend to stay involved in Santa Paula in different ways.”

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