THOUSAND OAKS — In an emotion-packed ceremony Tuesday night, celebrity attorney Edward L. Masry was sworn in as the newest addition to the City Council and voted along with his colleagues to appoint Dan Del Campo as the city's next mayor.
But in a change from the divisions that have made Thousand Oaks politics notorious in recent years, one of Masry's rivals nominated him mayor pro tem, and the council agreed.
Councilman Andy Fox, in what he described as a rare opportunity to put the best interests of the city ahead of personal political gain, said Masry should serve as mayor pro tem.
"The last thing this city needs is more divisive behavior," Fox told the crowd of dignitaries and residents, some of whom held up signs that said "Masry for Mayor Pro Tem."
Fox was expected to be nominated to the post by Del Campo, but many of Masry's supporters said the lawyer, who ran an aggressive slow-growth campaign with Councilwoman Linda Parks, deserved the ceremonial position because of his high vote totals in the election. Parks and Masry each got 29% of the vote Nov. 7--more than twice that of any other candidate.
The mayor pro tem leads meetings when the mayor is absent and is traditionally the person named mayor the following year.
Masry thanked Fox for the nomination and promised the voters who put him in office that he would carry out what he said he would during the campaign. Parks and Masry took the oath of office, followed by boisterous applause and a standing ovation from those in attendance.
"I am here to serve and I want to thank you so much for your confidence in me," Masry said.
Prior to the votes, the council and community thanked outgoing Councilman Mike Markey for five years of service on the council and Dennis Gillette for one year as mayor.
Current and former Ventura County political leaders--including Supervisor Frank Schillo--bestowed glowing accolades and a seemingly endless succession of plaques on Markey and Gillette.
Markey, who became choked up while delivering his final remarks, said a presentation by the city's Youth Commission particularly touched him.
"This is an important night because I'm closing one chapter of my life and opening another, which is giving myself back to my family," he said.
Gillette was praised for his ability to forge consensus on the dais and for his sense of humor in sometimes tense situations.
"Even though we're not always in agreement, I appreciate the fact that you've heard our complaints," Debbie Gregory, a Parks and Masry supporter, said on behalf of Save the Conejo 2000.