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March 24th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
This Saint Patrick’s Day, Thomas Chavez and Vincent Yu celebrated not with green beer and shamrocks, but instead with a ceremony confirming their newly acquired positions as Temple City councilmembers. Sworn in at a meeting at the council chambers last Tuesday, both new appointees were well-received by the community that just weeks ago elected them in hopes of bringing change, new development, and revitalization to their home town.
Yu and Chavez will be replacing Cathe Wilson and Ken Gillanders on the council, who both were part of what had turned into a decidedly troubled city government. The council took much heat for the failure of the Piazza project at Rosemead and Las Tunas when project developer Randy Wang accused several members including Mayor Wilson, Judy Wong and Dave Capra of soliciting bribes. The Feb. 25 police raids on Wilson’s and other councilmembers’ homes to search for evidence regarding the allegations may very well have placed the last nails in the coffins of the incumbents’ respective campaigns for reelection.
In a final statement as mayor, Ms. Wilson expressed gratitude to the staff she had worked with for the past 17 years and then continued on to say, “I feel as though I have done the job that I set out to do except for one regret…the biggest bad decision I have made is the Piazza, we were all fooled on that… I thought we were going to have something wonderful for our city, but it just didn’t turn out that way.” She made it clear that she would continue to be active in the community, stating, “you’re not getting rid of me that easy. I may not be on the council, but I’ll still be around the city.”
Gillanders offered his congratulations to Yu and Chavez in his outgoing statement and wished the newcomers well, stating, “I wish you a good deal of success, because I wouldn’t want you to get lost in there.” He then thanked the staff for “putting up with me for 30 years,” adding, “it’s sort of hard to leave, but at my age, I can find something to do with my time…trust me.”
Yu and Chavez were officially sworn in after the outgoing statements, and the first matter of business was to appoint a new Temple City Mayor. The council unanimously decided on councilmember Judy Wong, demonstrating that the Piazza scandal has left her relatively unscathed even as her fellow members may have lost their seats over the whole affair. While it is unclear how Wong herself may have fared in a general election this spring after being accused of soliciting bribes, her fellow councilmembers seem to have retained their faith in her and her ability to serve the city.
In his introductory remarks, Chavez thanked the citizens of Temple City and stated, “I promise to work very hard for our community, and I look forward to the challenge…I think it’s going to be a great four years”
Yu expressed excitement at being able to serve the people of Temple City, stating, ”I enjoyed my six years on the planning commission and I’m really looking forward to working with this council.” He added that he was very impressed by the enthusiasm he saw in the residents of Temple City throughout his campaign.
Given the problems plaguing the city, the new council has their work cut out for them. As development took center stage during both Yu and Chavez’s campaigns, residents are likely to see construction at the top of the agenda over the next few years. Perhaps Yu’s experience as an architect along with Chavez’s legal background will help pave the way to positive redevelopment for the community.
By Nina Kathryn Hauptman
Photos by Jerry Jambazian