Bright outlook on new Colusa City Council
Seven months ago, Kirk Kelleher was feeling dejected and even a bit despondent.
He had had enough of being a Colusa councilman and had already told the community he had no intention of running for another term.
But time has a way of changing things — and the voters made it very clear Tuesday that they wanted Kelleher back as one of the voices for the city.
"I am reinvigorated," Kelleher said Friday, just a couple of days after he had collected 1,154 votes (28.11 percent) to finish a close second to first-time City Council candidate Greg Ponciano, who received 1,183 tallies (28.81 percent).
With Marilyn Acree claiming the third open seat comfortably with 786 votes (19.14 percent), the much-anticipated remake of the city leadership is complete — well, almost.
"Of course, we have to settle the city manager's situation, and I don't know how that is going to play out," Kelleher said. "I think it is going to be a wait-and-see situation. We are going to have to get together (as a council) and formulate an idea and then go out and get that person."
Kelleher concedes there are some very different ideas of what that city manager's role should be — how strong, what priorities, and what duties — but he is buoyed by a new-look council.
"We have a really good group of people who want to do good things, and I think we are going to have a better working relationship. It's going to be fun," Kelleher said.
Gone from the council will be Kay Hosmer (148 votes, 3.6 percent) and Mayor Pat Landreth (491 votes, 11.96 percent), both of whom supported City Manager Jan McClintock and the controversial economic development consultant Mark Mayuga.
Christopher Fantl, another first-time candidate, finished fifth in the election with 337 votes or 8.21 percent.
Although Landreth eventually changed his position, leading to the ouster of both McClintock and Mayuga, it may have come too late to save him on election night.
Additionally, Hosmer was viewed as someone who was difficult to deal with, and no more so than the rivalry she had with Kelleher.
"It's really clear what happened, and I don't think I need to comment on that," Kelleher said.
The discontentment that rose over the economic development situation, and the turmoil it caused on the council, is something Kelleher, co-owner of Kelleher Paint, believes has brought the city to where it is now.
"I think the message that got sent is when the community is more involved and showing up at the meetings, and there is a greater awareness of what is happening, change comes from that," Kelleher said.
"I think it is essential that the public stay involved and continue to fill the City Council chambers," he added. "I don't know if they will, for sure, but I think there is a new awareness and I will continue to encourage the public to stay involved."
Kelleher also concedes his views on the council's role is different than that shared by Ponciano and Acree, who are more hands-on.
Kelleher said that is OK, but thinks both need to sit back and learn for awhile.
"I don't think it will cause any issue. I think as we work together in the near future, we will work out some kind of thought process," Kelleher said.
"I think Greg and Marilyn both need to get behind the bench and see how that all plays out and then decide how to proceed," he added. "Getting a little experience ... is valuable; it certainly was for me, and it takes awhile."
In addition to the city manager's situation, Kelleher said the new council will likely get a mid-year budget that is worse than the one it was given last year.
"The projections have been that we will be in a worse position than we were last year, and we will have to figure out what to do with the money we won't get back from the Mayuga contract," Kelleher said.
That $135,000 will show up as a reserve expenditure unless city officials and the state can negotiate some kind of agreement that will allow all or part of it paid back through the redevelopment process.