Two new Bakersfield City Council members took their seats on the dais Tuesday night, replacing two longstanding members in a somewhat sentimental city council meeting packed with well-wishers, city staff and council members' families.
Bob Smith and Terry Maxwell, both dressed sharply in black suits with red rose boutineers pinned to their lapels like the rest of the council members, took the oath of office standing next to Jacquie Sullivan and Harold Hanson, both re-elected for another four years.
Mayor Harvey Hall gave keys to the city to outgoing council members Sue Benham of Ward 2 and David Couch of Ward 4, who Maxwell and Smith are replacing.
"It has been a special pleasure for me to serve with Vice Mayor Couch," Hall said. "We're going miss him ... and all the good work that he has done."
Benham also thanked Couch for suggesting that she run for her first term on the council in 2000. She also thanked city staff.
"The citizens are ... very, very fortunate, and I don't think they often know how fortunate they are, to have such dedicated people working for the city," she said.
Couch echoed that comment.
"You people are really good. You make us look way better than we actually are." In particular, he singled out City Manager Alan Tandy and City Attorney Virginia Gennaro.
"Whatever you guys want to do, if you can get three more votes for it, that man will get it done," he said to Smith and Maxwell about Tandy. "And she'll keep you out of trouble," he said of Gennaro.
"It's been an honor and privilege to serve you and to represent you," Couch said to his constituents.
"Good luck where you're going," Councilman Ken Weir told Couch, referring to the Kern County supervisor seat Couch will soon take up. "I'm sure you'll need it, but I'm sure you're very capable of doing what needs to be done, too."
"I am grateful to the voters in Ward 4 and hope to serve them well," Smith said once he and Maxwell had taken their new seats. "I'm honored and thankful to be here."
Maxwell thanked his family and mentioned how he'd been influenced by his father, who died in 2000.
"I wish he were here tonight to see this," he said.
The new council named Weir as vice mayor, replacing Couch. The vice mayor directs city council meetings and signs official documents when the mayor isn't available.
Among his first acts as a council member, Maxwell asked that the mayor look into publically recognizing Bakersfield College for winning its first official state title on Saturday, in a game against City College of San Francisco.
Smith reminded the audience of a public workshop on Wednesday night at the Rabobank Convention Center on new plans for bike paths in the city, a longtime focus of his. City staff are asking for the public's opinions on how to improve bike routes. That will be in the "Potato" conference room from 6 to 8 p.m.
After a short reception, council members took care of other city business, including:
* Awarding a $30 million contract to Security Paving to build another stage of the Westside Parkway project. This phase of the project will be four lanes of freeway between Allen Road and the Stockdale Highway and Heath Road intersection. It also will include a bridge for Renfro Road to cross over the Westside Parkway. When it's done, the parkway will extend from Truxtun Avenue west to Stockdale Highway and Heath Road.
* Approving an agreement with Bethany Services and the Bakersfield Homeless Center to use about $158,000 in federal grant money from the city to help people who have recently become homeless.