Like most chosen to lead a city, when Barbara Payne was selected as Galt's mayor last December she had a checklist of things she wanted to see done. It included:
- Unite the city and schools.
- Increase the council's contact with the community.
- Work to revitalize downtown.
- Focus on youth initiatives.
- Create an online community calendar.
Today, she can check off most of those items with the help of an essentially new city council for 2011.
"What's been important this year is all of the cooperation and respect the council has had with the staff. I'm very pleased," Payne said. "We don't always agree, but at the end of the day we get along."
Some feel she essentially hand-picked that team by publicly endorsing the candidates who went on to win their campaigns, and appointing another to a vacant seat months before the 2010 election.
"I don't know how much weight I had, but I endorsed all of the new council members. I'm happy with the choices I made," she said, adding that she was looking for community members who respected one another and had the city's best interests at hand.
And voters agreed.
In the end, one resident called the new council make-up a dream team for 2011. It includes Mark Crews, Mike Singleton and Marylou Powers, the latter appointed in August 2010 after being nominated by Payne. Last December, the council unanimously chose Payne to lead the city in 2011.
One of her main goals was to see the council work together and remain respectful. Previously, council members were known for contentious infighting that occasionally included members of the public.
In fact, in an interview last December, Payne said the hardest thing to deal with in her first two council terms was a divided council. She said at the time it was important to her that council members didn't have that situation again and felt the voters elected people who could get along.
"This year, I had a comment from one of the council members that it's easier and better for him to do his job when the council gets along," Payne said this week.
Payne, the third female mayor in Galt's history, was first elected in 2004.
Two years ago, she started the Shop Local group, a partnership between the city, the Chamber of Commerce and businesses. The group's motto is "there is no place like home," and the goal is to encourage people to shop locally and to brand Galt as a small-town tourist destination.
In the last year, she's also seen the new Galt Youth Master Plan come to fruition. It is essentially a blueprint by Galt school districts and the city to plan for the city's youngest residents.
"This past year has been pleasant and rewarding," Payne said. "I'm looking forward to another year on the council, and that hasn't always been the case."
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.