Top Photo, Councilmember Rick Cook (left) hands outgoing Councilmember Don Johnson his city tile during ceremonies during the Santa Paula City Council meeting Monday evening Bottom Photo, Councilmember John Proctor (left) reads a city proclamation congratulating outgoing Vice Mayor Laura Flores Espinosa for her service to the city as husband Victor looks on. Photos by Debbie Johnson

Outgoing City Council members Laura Espinosa, Don Johnson lauded

December 06, 2002
Santa Paula City Council
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesBetween the two, they served 16 years on the City Council, and an emotional farewell was given to Don Johnson, who declined to run for a third term, and Laura Flores Espinosa, defeated in her write-in bid for same, at the Dec. 2 meeting.The meeting was held at the Community Center to accommodate the crowd who came to see the changing of the council guard, albeit not a complete one. Although newly elected Councilman Gabino Aguirre and incumbent Councilman Rick Cook were sworn into office, Mary Ann Krause was stuck out-of-state due to inclement weather conditions that grounded her flight home over the Thanksgiving weekend.During public comment, Luz Maria Espinosa noted that although Espinosa faced numerous challenges, “you continued to do things for the community. . .”“I want to thank Don Johnson and Laura Flores Espinosa for a job well done,” said John Wisda, whose own council bid failed.Rodney Fernandez, representing the Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation board of directors, thanked Johnson and Espinosa for their service. “The work Ms. Espinosa has done has laid the foundation for this community to move forward,” he noted.City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz opened the formal ceremony, noting, “as per our custom, the city will present a proclamation and a city tile,” to Espinosa and Johnson.Councilman John Procter invited Victor Espinosa up as he did the presentation for Espinosa.“I thank Ms. Espinosa for what she has given to me and the city. I learned much from her research and vigilance.” Tenacious comes to mind when asked to describe Espinosa in one word, added Procter, “tenacious like a mother with a child,” when it comes to Santa Paula.Cook presented the proclamation and tile to Johnson, noting his council and commission service, including two terms as mayor.Supervisor Kathy Long lauded Espinosa and Johnson, “but I know you will continue to be a significant part of this community, and continue to give to this community. . .it’s in your hearts.”The terms of Espinosa and Johnson were “characterized by dedication and hard work to the city of Santa Paula, and your regional contributions were welcomed and respected,” Long noted.
“I also want to say a fond farewell to Don Johnson,” said Procter. “He had a real sense of detail, brought something to the party. . .attention to the details, dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.”Councilman Aguirre said he would ask Johnson and Espinosa to “help us with this community and try to move it forward. . .”“I feel very optimistic about the future of Santa Paula with the guiding leadership,” of the council, said Espinosa. “My very best regards to Don Johnson who served with me for eight years.”Espinosa said she is leaving with a “sense of accomplishment with our outstanding new city manager and finance director.”She thanked city staff and department heads, and noted that “eight years goes by almost in a wink of an eye, but I don’t think my family thinks so. I thank them for the sacrifices they made. . .we worked together as a family and are enriched because of it. I offer gratitude to the community; it was easy to serve when you think of it as a family, and that is what it is.”Adding to the quality of life and to providing open government were among the goals Espinosa said she attained, as well as housing, land-use and youth issues and programs. “I researched how to be a leader but it’s more about relationships, leaders and followers together raise each other up in a motivating spirit.”“It’s been an interesting eight years,” said Johnson, especially since he and Espinosa “sat on a different council every two years. I learned very quickly that every council elected had a passion for Santa Paula,” that overcame many differences. “When you look through the records you can see the passion of the council and that passion is really important.”Johnson offered thanks to Espinosa for her service, noting that they were involved in hiring interim city managers and a former city manager. “I don’t know how this happened, but we finally got it right, we got Wally,” Bobkiewicz as city manager.“I want to thank the community for letting me represent them the last eight years,” as well as thank city staff and department heads for their efforts. “It is very, very important for you to know as a council member and as a citizen that your staff is working for you very hard,” Johnson said.Johnson’s final thanks were to his wife Debbie, as “if it had not been for her, it would have been a rough eight years.”

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