Carpenter takes wheel of LA council: Fishpaw selected

Photo Elliott Burr/Town Crier

Val Carpenter, left, with her husband, Rich, takes the inaugural ride of her term as mayor during Sunday’s Festival of Lights Parade. This marks the second time Carpenter has served as mayor.

New business cards may be in order for Val Carpenter and Jarrett Fishpaw.

Both councilmembers secured new titles for their respective roles Nov. 22 after the Los Altos City Council nominated Carpenter to serve as the city’s next mayor and Fishpaw as the next mayor pro tem.

Outgoing mayor Ron Packard, who also served as mayor in 2005-2006, kicked off the ceremonial changing of the guard by suggesting he tried to purchase a bow tie – Fishpaw’s trademark look – to mark the occasion.

All jokes aside, Packard told the Town Crier he was pleased to see Carpenter assume the office, noting her experience and dependability.

“She’s got good judgment, and she did a fine job the last time as mayor,” Packard said of Carpenter, who previously served as mayor in 2007-2008. “I have no question that she’ll do a good job.”

Carpenter, who presented Packard with a plaque commending his service as mayor, noted that the outgoing mayor’s experience on the council proved to be especially beneficial to the city in moving projects along, including the renovation of Rosita Park and the city’s First Street infrastructure and streetscape construction.

“I think that he has really been successful in guiding the council and the staff from conceptual plans to reality this year,” she said. “There’s just a lot of examples of Ron’s being able to bring things to fruition.”

Carpenter said she hopes to continue Packard’s trend. Chief among her goals, she said, will be hiring a new city manager. Current City Manager Doug Schmitz is scheduled to retire in early 2012 after holding the position for more than four years.

In addition, Carpenter said she hopes to move forward with the first phase of the city’s Community Center Master Plan.

“We’ve developed the plans and we’ve approved them, and now it’s time to begin realizing that,” she said. “Certainly I’d like to see Phase 1 funding (for the project) secured, plans made and ground broken.”

To that end, Fishpaw said one of his objectives in his new role as the city’s mayor pro tem is to provide a sounding board for residents concerned with issues like the Community Center Master Plan.

“People want to know what’s happening with the new community center,” he said. “They want to know the cost of it, the finances of it and what the cost of other options are before they’re willing to move forward.”

Packard, who will serve on the council one more year, said one of his prouder moments in the past year was working with Safeway representatives to ensure that plans for a new proposed grocery store on First Street became reality.

Packard said he stepped in to help negotiate a parking agreement – a key sticking point for the project – during a time when things looked dire.

“I put Humpty Dumpty back together again, and now it’s moving forward,” he said.

Above all, Carpenter added, she plans to continue Packard’s goal of conducting the city’s business in a civil manner.

“I’ve been fortunate to be on a council with people who believe in civility and respect,” she said. “These are values that are important to me.”

as mayor pro tem

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