Brown sworn in as mayor |

Brown sworn in as mayor

Michael Schneider

Out with the old; in with the new.

Kevin Cole, the redevelopment champion, and Margo Osti, parks and recreation supporter, said goodbye to their seats among South Lake Tahoe’s policy-making body and Brooke Laine and Bill Crawford were sworn in as City Council members.

The evening brought to an end eight years of service from the departing duo and ushered in the era of diversity, as newly appointed Mayor Judy Brown said.

Kevin (this is the last the Tribune will have to write the first name of the council members Cole on each reference) Cole and Osti were honored with plaques and, as his last act as mayor, Hal Cole, who was elected in November to a second council term, honored each with musings and ribbings.

“People always ask me if you’re my brother,” Hal Cole said to Kevin Cole. “Now I can tell them you’re my dad.”

And on a more serious note: “Redevelopment is Kevin Cole,” Hal Cole said.

“I can tell you these will be some of my most prized possessions,” an emotional Kevin Cole said of the city plaque and one given to him by Assistant City Manager Sue Schlerf on behalf of the Tahoe Transportation District. Kevin Cole served on the district board while on the council.

“Sooner or later in this job you wind up offending everyone at least once,” he said. “I just hope people think I’ve always voted my heart.”

Osti used her last speech as a council member to thank family, friends and city staff for support and help during her tenure. Osti thanked former Parks and Recreation Director Don Radford and current directors Steve Weiss and Judy Crawford for their help with the two new city athletic fields.

“In a time with no money and everyone saying, ‘You can’t get it done,’ they made it happen,” Osti said of Weiss and Crawford, who have operated the department on a shoestring budget since budget cuts two years ago.

n After Osti called for a renewed hiring process for newly appointed Safety Services Director Brad Bennett at the last council meeting, Brown said she plans to be a champion for the city’s Latino community.

Osti said she was upset no Hispanics were included in the hiring process. Bennett was appointed by City Manager Kerry Miller to take the place of the retiring Dave Solaro. Other council members did not support Osti’s request.

Brown said she will set up a task force to study issues affecting the Hispanic community. At the end of the year, the task force, made up of a cross section of the community and city staff, will report back to the council with recommendations to improve services to the growing segment in the community.

Brown, who is beginning her third year as a council member, was elected mayor by the new council in its first official act.

“Indeed it’s a great honor to serve as your mayor for the next year,” Brown said from her new post. “I look forward to serving with all the council.”

Brown spoke of her first council meeting five years ago, when she came as a citizen to speak to an issue.

“I’d never been to a city council meeting ever, in any town I’d lived in,” she said, “but I got hooked on the process.”

Brown ran unsuccessfully for council four years ago, but took a spot on the city’s planning commission.

n Proposed changes to the Council Rules of Order were postponed until the council can ponder the rules at a retreat planned for January.

Brown, who had proposed the changes, said the staff-offered changes were confusing and recommended the item be pulled from Tuesday’s agenda. The council concurred. The item will surface again next year.

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