New Grass Valley city council members sworn in at board meeting |

New Grass Valley city council members sworn in at board meeting

New Grass Valley City Council member Hilary Hodge smiles as she takes her place on the dais Tuesday.
Photo by Liz Kellar/lizk@theunio

Emotions ran high at Grass Valley’s city council meeting Tuesday night as Jason Fouyer said goodbye, mayor Howard Levine stepped down and Hilary Hodge came on board.

Levine joked that Fouyer had dark hair when he started his council service, grew serious as he told Fouyer of his “great admiration and deep love,” and then playful as he planted several kisses on his cheek. The other council members each took a turn at honoring Fouyer before he delivered his goodbye.

“We haven’t had this many people at council since we dealt with backyard chickens — that’s the truth,” Fouyer said, surveying the standing-room-only crowd. “The new council members are getting an engaged community.”

Fouyer said he has occasionally disagreed with the other members of the council, but they have remained friends. And he noted they all have the best interests of the community at heart.

Lisa Swarthout presented Levine with a gavel as she recognized his years as mayor.

“He took me under his wing and mentored me,” she said. “He taught me so much about public service.”

Swarthout cited some of Levine’s accomplishments, including pickleball courts and a new playground at Memorial Park, along with the Chris Stevens memorial on Mill Street.

But Swarthout’s “favorite” memory of Levine’s tenure as mayor, she said, was the Love Walk he helped organize last year in response to a racist incident downtown.

“He taught people how we should treat each other as human beings,” she said.

Levine bowed his head, struggling to contain his emotions before delivering his farewell as mayor.

The vision of Grass Valley he worked to sculpt with his late wife, Peggy, highlighted the economic importance of the arts, Levine said, citing the renovation of The Center for the Arts and recent public art, as well as the creation of the cultural arts district. He also stressed the importance of recreation and his work in shepherding the Wolf Creek Trail to fruition.

Levine told the audience a second Love Walk is scheduled for early next year, adding the inaugural event “let us know as a community we will never stand for intolerance, we will always support our fellow man no matter what, no matter who.”

Fouyer then stepped down to a standing ovation, and Hodge was sworn in along with returning council member Ben Aguilar.

During a re-shuffle of the council, Swarthout was elected mayor and Aguilar was named vice-mayor.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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