Grass Valley appoints new city council member
The Grass Valley city council appointed Planning Commissioner Benjamin Aguilar to fill the council’s vacant seat Tuesday night, voting him in on a 3-to-1 majority vote.
“I’m really excited,” Aguilar said. “I’m looking forward to filling the seat and helping the city move forward to help grow the businesses that are existing, help grow new business, and maybe work on really boosting tourism, that’s one of our big revenue streams.”
The seat was left vacant after former city council member Terry Lamphier resigned in a letter sent on Jan. 7 to Grass Valley city officials, weeks after being charged with a three-count misdemeanor complaint accusing him of having or possessing digital obscene images of a person younger than 18.
On Jan. 13, city council members voted to fill the open 4-year seat through appointment. The city council’s charter required them to make the appointment by March 9.
Aguilar was one of three candidates that interviewed for the position at a Feb. 10 council meeting, along with top runner-up in the November election, Jerri Glover, and healthcare tech manager Jedidiah Watson.
On Tuesday, council members thanked the community for the abundance of feedback they received.
Arbuckle said she motioned to choose Aguilar as the new council member due to the majority of phone calls and emails she received in support of his candidacy.
“Ben has a young family here, he has a business here, he’s vested here,” Arbuckle said. “We keep hearing the ‘old guard’ the older people are here, the retirees. Ben’s a perfect input to the council because he’s young, he has a family, he’s choosing to live here.”
Mayor Jason Fouyer was the lone “no” vote, and backed Glover for the appointment, though admitted he was torn in making his decision.
“It wasn’t a vote against Ben. I think he’s extremely qualified and I consider him my friend and I look forward to having him on board,” Fouyer said Tuesday. “The reason I dissented was primarily because the public input over the last couple of months has been huge, and has really been for Jerri.”
The council provided a public forum Tuesday night for attendees to express their opinions on the appointment. Local business owner Sue Hudson gave her pitch to appoint Glover.
“I have only known her to be all about Grass Valley,” Hudson said. “I am so honored to be her friend, and she is a woman of integrity, she always takes the high road.”
Council member Lisa Swarthout encouraged the applicants who were not appointed Tuesday to continue to stay involved.
“If you were not appointed, persevere,” Swarthout said. “I ran for city council three times before I got elected, and it’s worth it to stay involved with the community. So perseverance is the word for the evening.”
Glover humbly accepted the council’s decision, but said she is still eyeing a seat on the council in 2016.
“I am thrilled for Ben, I think he’s going to do a great job,” Glover said. “I wish him and the other council members the best and I’m looking forward to seeing the work they do. I am going to stay involved with the city, and as I’ve said before, I will be back in 2016 to run again.”
Watson said he was proud to be a part of the process, though said he would be seeking to throw his hat in the ring to replace Aguilar’s seat on the city’s planning commission, a seat Aguilar must vacate before joining the city council.
“Ben’s a great person, he’s got a great attitude,” Watson said. “He knows a lot about the ins and outs of the city and I think he’ll be great up there. So I’m proud to be from Grass Valley, and who knows, maybe in the next election I may be putting my name in.”
Aguilar, 34, will be the youngest member on the council and says he thinks he can bring a different perspective that will be beneficial to the city moving forward.
“Obviously at my age, I’m in the mindset of what can be done to make it better for young families,” Aguilar said. “And helping people that move away from this community to go to college, What can we do to bring them back here? What kind of jobs can we create to build a younger base, rather than a retiree community? Those are things I’m thinking about.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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