HUGHSON -- A 20-minute meeting marked the end of nine months of infighting and accusations, which culminated with a recall election.
With three hands raised, the city began a new chapter as George Carr, Jill Silva and Jeramy Young took the oath of office -- at their request, all at once -- during a special meeting Monday night at the Community/Senior Center.
Last week, voters overwhelmingly removed Thom Crowder and Doug Humphreys from their seats and replaced them with Carr and Young. Another councilman targeted in the recall election, Ben Manley, resigned earlier this month. Silva won his seat.
Mayor Ramon Bawanan said it was a sad day and a happy day for Hughson: Sad because the three men, accused in a Stanislaus County civil grand jury report of violating the state open meeting law, had to be removed from office; happy because the system worked as it should.
"You saw through inaccurate and misleading statements and voted to restore ethical leadership in government," he said. "There is no prouder mayor in Stanislaus County and California, or in the United States of America for that matter, than I am today."
Humphreys attended an earlier meeting, where the former council voted 3-0 to accept the results of the recall election. Crowder did not attend; he said last week that he had a doctor's appointment in San Francisco that could keep him away.
Each of the new council members promised to work hard for the city.
Young encouraged residents to stay involved.
"It's a huge part of the way government works," he said. "It's apparent because it worked this time."
"I do pledge I will give 110 percent," Silva said. "I'm sure Michele (Winterbottom, city clerk) is just freaked out by all my requests already, but I want to make sure I have all the information."
Said Carr: "I'm truly honored to be sitting up here with four very helpful, very distinguished people. I will work for the city of Hughson, the citizens of Hughson, the betterment of Hughson."
That work will get under way quickly: the city, operating without a 2010-11 budget, will have a workshop on that topic Sept. 6.
And Bawanan suggested a special closed session meeting for Monday -- Labor Day -- if everyone can make it. Two finalists for the job of city manager are available for interviews.
But on Monday, the mood was ebullient and festive. Applause and standing ovations greeted the new council members, and the statements from Bawanan and Councilman Matt Beekman.
"I'm very much hoping that what has transpired is that this ignites a whole renaissance in community involvement," Beekman said, "because that is historically what has made Hughson great.
"There was a time when this community wanted a swimming pool. People picked up shovels and dug a hole. We did that again."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.