Mayor Rick Cook (left) accepts the gavel from Mayor Jim Garfield

Rick Cook selected Mayor

December 10, 1999
Santa Paula City Council
The Santa Paula City Council installed a new Mayor during the Dec. 6th meeting when Vice Mayor Rick Cook was selected unanimously to fill the mostly ceremonial spot. “I’m looking forward to it. . .it’s going to be a challenge to get our city staying on the track we’re going,” said Mayor Cook, a city native who was elected to the City Council in 1998.Mayor Cook retired from the Santa Paula Police Department after 23 years of law enforcement and is now an investigator with the Ventura County Public Defenders’ Office.He took over from outgoing Mayor Jim Garfield after a low-key election without debate.He said his priorities will be “annexations, future jobs and housing. . .they all tie-in together.”Mayor Cook served over five years on the Planning Commission where the idea of running for the City Council first took hold: “I think seeing how our city was dying, the businesses closing and nothing coming to open up behind them, made me take more of an interest. I realized I wanted to help make a change for the better for our city and citizens.”
It’s going to be a tough year for the mayor: Santa Paula has been the recent focus of a Department of Justice investigation into Latino elected representation that might lead to a lawsuit to force district voting; city coffers are dwindling and the Santa Paula Police Association has vowed to continue a fight for higher salaries.Mayor Cook said despite the problems, “I hope this year it’s going to be a positive one for all of us. I know I’ll make mistakes, verbal or whatever, but I hope people understand and accept me for who and what I am. Hopefully, we all can work to better Santa Paula. . .it’s honestly how I feel.”He understands the city is made up of “different factions and different ideas. . .but if everybody agreed on everything we wouldn’t even need a City Council. Hopefully, we can all get together and work together towards improving things for Santa Paula and all citizens in the year 2000.”Don Johnson, who formerly served as Mayor, was selected Vice Mayor on a unanimous vote.

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