Instead of Christmas, it looked a lot like the Fourth of July in the Santee Chambers yesterday evening.
The packed room was decked in patriotic colors. American flags draped the walls, columns and Council dais. Red and silver balloons hung in the air.
The decorations were in honor of the evening's Oath of Office Ceremony, which began after a quick first half of the Council agenda, with no Council or public reports.
First, the two members who were leaving the Council addressed their peers and the public.
Former Vice Mayor , who submitted his resignation from the City Council, will now serve the 77th State Assembly District, a seat he won with 62.5 percent of the vote.
Elected to the Santee City Council in 2002, Jones said his eight years have "been a great experience."
Jones, who admitted he had been struggling with what to say, told the crowd about the swearing in ceremony for new assembly members, which he attended in Sacramento on Dec. 6. He was informed he would be using the office of his predecessor, but was surprised to see his name already on the door.
When he arrived home to pack his belongings in his Santee office, he was even more surprised to find his name had already been replaced with newly elected Rob McNelis' nameplate.
"I got to experience, first hand, the peaceful change in power in the United States of America," Jones joked. "I want you to understand that is what makes our country great—that we can choose our leaders in a peaceful process, and most of the time, they peacefully go."
Joenes received a few going away presents, including his nameplate, which he believed was thrown away.
"We are so very proud of you," said Councilmember . "You are going to do great things. We continue to look forward to supporting you in the future, and we thank you for everything."
Next, former Councilmember said his goodbyes.
"It's been a ride," said Ryan, who has served on the City Council since 1990. "I can't say enough about thanking everyone in this community. Thanks very much."
credited Ryan for his involvement on the City Council. Voepel, who was otherwise cheerful, even when others joked about his new independent status, got teary eyed when saying farewell to his friend.
"Hal, you're a great man, and we're going to lose you, and I'm not happy about that," he said.
The goodbyes were followed by hellos.
Of the 29,130 registered voters in Santee, 19,642 ballots were cast on the Nov. 2 General Election.
, who received 8,747 votes, was the first councilmember to be sworn in. and he thanked his many supporters.
"Thank you so very, very, very much for your confidence in me to elect me. I'm so humbled by the numbers," he said. "It was a phenomenal feeling to know that you work hard, you do what you can for a city, you believe in a city, you believe in a position, and sometimes it works out in your favor."
was re-elected to the Council with 7,913 votes. He also thanked his supporters, including his brother, whom he gave a Council pin to.
"I know that I cannot do this everyday, month after month, year after year, without support," said Minto, who was first elected to the Council in 2002.
, who received 5,716 votes, was the last councilmember to be sworn in.
"I feel very fortunate to be starting on this Council with this group of gentlemen," he said. "The voters have chosen well in giving me a great group to work with. I do look forward to working with you all very closely."
The last item on the agenda was the selection of Mayor Pro Tempore, or Vice Mayor, which is rotated annually among the councilmembers. Although Dale was eligible for selection, he passed, because of his responsibilities as the First Vice Chair of the San Diego Association of Governments, and nominated Minto. With five votes, Minto was selected as the Vice Mayor, which was the first official action of the new Santee City Council.