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Los Altos Turns 60: Glimpses of the Past

Photo By: Courtesy of Lisa Robinson/Los Altos History Museum
Photo Courtesy Of Lisa Robinson/Los Altos History Museum

Los Altos voted to incorporate in November 1952, electing, from left, Joseph W. Fortunato, A. Watson Conner, George H. Estill, C.O. Witt and Burt H. Riggs to serve on the first city council.

The year 2012 marks the 60th anniversary of the incorporation of Los Altos. To honor the milestone, “Glimpses of the Past” periodically publishes items from 1952 Los Altos newspapers.

“Incorporation Wins” read the banner headline on the Nov. 21 issue of the Los Altos News. The final vote for incorporation, including absentee ballots, was 2,158 to 1,920. Nearly 71 percent of the city’s 5,500 registered voters cast their ballots, an unusually heavy turnout for a local election.

For seats on the city council, the two highest vote-getters were A. Watson Conner and Joseph W. Fortunato. By state law, they were to serve four years. The other three elected – Burt H. Riggs, C.O. Witt and George H. Estill – were to serve three-year terms.

• Los Altos became an official city Dec. 1, after George Ramsey and County Clerk T.E. McGehee collected the necessary documents and hurriedly drove to Sacramento to file them with the State Secretary and Board of Equalization. After they turned in the paperwork, they phoned the good news to five eagerly waiting councilmen in Los Altos. That afternoon at 5:30, the first meeting of the new council was convened in San Antonio School’s music room.

• The Los Altos News celebrated the incorporation in a Dec. 5 article headlined “Historic First Meeting of First Council Held Monday.” The account included two photographs. One showed the oath of office being administered by Municipal Judge-elect Alfred W. Bowen. The other showed the first meeting, with the new councilmen sitting around a table with acting City Clerk Eileen Verhoye.

Don McDonald is a local historian and longtime volunteer with the Los Altos History Museum.

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