For the first time in nine years Alaska’s Capital City has a new mayor.
At a brief special meeting Monday night, Bruce Botelho – the longest serving mayor in Juneau history – handed the gavel to former Assemblyman Merrill Sanford.
New Assemblyman Loren Jones also was sworn-in to the seat previously held by David Stone, who served alongside Botelho on the Assembly for three consecutive terms starting in 2003.
Term limits prevented both Botelho and Stone from running for re-election at this year’s October 2nd municipal election, something not lost on Stone in his outgoing remarks.
“I personally don’t favor term limits, but in my case I think it’s a blessing,” Stone said, getting a laugh from the audience and his fellow Assembly members.
On a serious note, Stone thanked city staff, his fellow assembly members, and his wife Laurel.
“Laurel, I thank you for your support. Nine years, you’ve been there with me this whole time, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you again,” he said, getting another laugh.
Botelho – who has spent 15 of the last 30 years as Assembly member or Mayor – also thanked his fellow Assembly members and municipal staff.
“Without exception, the people with whom I have served believed in Juneau, and were committed to making Juneau the best place to live that they could,” said Botelho. “I would add this: That the citizens of Juneau have been blessed with a hardworking and committed staff. They are truly dedicated public servants.”
After being sworn-in as mayor, Sanford – who served on the Assembly alongside Botelho and Stone for eight of their nine years – presented them each with a parting gift: A crystal plaque bearing the city and borough seal for Stone and a crystal gavel for Botelho.
Laurel Stone and Botelho’s mother, Harriet, also received flowers from City Manager Kim Kiefer.
Sanford then took the mayor’s seat, and after thanking Botelho and Stone again for their service, turned to his fellow Assembly members and offered some thoughts on the future.
“It’s exciting. It’s a little bit scary to be sitting in the mayor’s spot,” he said. “But we’ll move forward together. And hopefully as we start to debate, and start to discuss issues, we’ll grow as a team and we’ll become a better team to serve our community, because that’s what it’s all about.”
Sanford also talked about wanting to lend a helping hand to Juneau’s neighbors throughout Southeast Alaska.
The new mayor said he expects to finalize committee assignments in the next week or two.
The Assembly will hold a retreat on Saturday October 27th to discuss goals for the coming year.
Jerry Nankervis, who was elected to an Assembly District Two seat at the October 2nd municipal election, was out of town Monday. He will be sworn-in prior to next Monday’s regularly scheduled Assembly meeting.