New council cannot wait to start |

New council cannot wait to start

It’s a new day for South Lake Tahoe.

From weekend getaways to double dating, paths among newly elected South Lake Tahoe City Council members and those holding office continue to cross, a sign of upcoming teamwork ahead of them.

Council members-elect John Upton and Kathay Lovell have considered unwinding from their respective candidacies with trips with their spouses to Bodega Bay over the next few days, weather permitting.

If so, the two top vote getters — who raked in 19.1 and 17.1 percent, respectively — would like to meet up to chat about their upcoming four-year roles on the council with incumbent Hal Cole. He reclaimed the third seat with 15.1 percent of the vote.

Lovell, whose sister went to school with Upton, looks forward to working with a diverse group of people with a common goal and background.

“I think it’s interesting all three of us have roots in Tahoe,” she said, adding business experience as another similarity.

The goal is to “make a difference,” Lovell said. To cynics who may question the new panel’s zealousness, she implored: “Just watch.”

Cole, a contractor, wants to build on the previous accomplishments of the city, including redevelopment efforts. He reminded citizens he’s proud of how far the city has come, but he’d like to see more cohesiveness on the council.

“I think the public wants to see a new tone for the council,” Cole said.

What’s his advice for new council members on how to strike that balance between individual opinions and collective bargaining?

“Don’t take anything personally,” he said.

He also plans to continue “learning more from listening than speaking.”

In addition, Cole believes it’s important to advocate a time of healing in the city, now that Measure Z has passed. The initiative will raise the motel-room tax by at least $1 and doubles the business license fees.

“I felt this election was divisive with Measure Z,” he said.

Still, with fresh faces alongside him and the promise of increased revenue for the city, Cole is optimistic about the future.

So are his fellow council members, Tom Davis and incoming Mayor Judy Brown.

“I’m looking forward to working with a functional council,” Davis said, adding he’s both “elated and excited.”

Brown, who double-dated with Upton in Berkeley years ago, was pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

Though unfamiliar with Lovell, she placed a call Wednesday to congratulate the newly elected member and added that she perceives her nature as positive.

“I think it’s going to be an excellent working group,” Brown said. “I’ve known John for years. Who knew then (in Berkeley) that we’d both end up back in South Lake Tahoe and serve on the City Council together?”

“There’s no question this council can work together,” Upton said in a self-assured tone. “And that’s good because it will be critical with the issues we have to face.”

The new council will be installed Dec. 10.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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