Livingston council, mayor are sworn in

Mnorth@mercedsunstar.comDecember 4, 2012 

— There was a lot of turnover on the dais Tuesday as three new council members were sworn in.

Newcomers Jim Soria, Arturo Sicairos and David Mendoza all won seats during the Nov. 6 election, replacing Nemesio Alcazar Jr., Romey Phangureh and outgoing Councilwoman Theresa Land.

Councilman Frank Vierra and Mayor Pro-Tem Margarita Aguilar didn't run for re-election.

Aguilar said she wanted to spend more time with her family. While she said she's done her part for the city, she plans to return in two years. In the meantime, she wants to stay involved in the Utility Rates Stakeholders' Committee.

Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza defeated his challenger, Mike Sperry Jr., in the November election, winning another two-year term as mayor. Espinoza said his focus over the next couple of years will be on improving the city's water and finding funding to finish the third stage of the city's pipeline replacement. He wants to put emphasis on building up sales tax revenue by bringing in business. "I think we're in good shape, but I think we can get better," he said before Tuesday night's meeting.

The city will be facing challenges including the general plan update, Espinoza said.

With a new planning firm and three new council members, he said it'll take some time to get everyone up to date on the project, which the city has dedicated a lot of time to.

Though their opinions may vary, Espinoza thinks the new council will be a good team.

"I think so," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be working together. It's still a challenge."

Before the election, Espinoza released fliers endorsing himself and several other local candidates, including contenders for the Livingston council, city clerk, city treasurer, county supervisor, assembly and congress. Everyone he endorsed won.

Espinoza put out the flier jointly with Sicairos, who said the flier might've helped him win, since a lot of Livingston voters look for guidance around election time.

Many of Sicairos' goals mirrored Espinoza's, but he said there's been a recent spike in graffiti in Livingston that he wants to decrease.

Mendoza and Soria said they want to focus on services, including water. But they noted that they want to keep any potential rate increases reasonable so that residents can better handle them.

There were several nominations and appointments during Tuesday's meeting.

Councilman Gurpal Samra was elected by the council to serve as the mayor pro-tem.

Land and Vierra were absent during Tuesday's meeting. City Clerk Tony Silva and Treasurer Maria Ribeiro took the oaths of office.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.

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