Upon his second selection to the Lodi mayoral seat, Phil Katzakian said he feels a little more comfortable this time around.
“I’m looking forward to spending more time with my fellow council members in what I hope is a smooth, yet eventful year to come,” he said at Wednesday night’s Lodi City Council meeting.
Katzakian recalled when he was named mayor for the first time in 2010. At the time, he said, he asked for a cigarette and a blindfold because he didn’t know how his first year as Lodi’s leader would turn out. But he said he’s prepared for 2014.
“It’s just an honor to represent the city as its mayor for the second time,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to working with our staff and the council.”
Katzakian, first elected to the council in 2006, was nominated by outgoing mayor Alan Nakanishi, and unanimously approved by the council.
He said he has no real agenda for the coming year, but would like to focus on developing economic ventures that would be beneficial to Lodi.
Lodi City Manager Rad Bartlam noted before Katzakian’s selection that not many people have been elected to the city council, leave for a while and return to be elected to the council again like Nakanishi had.
Nakanishi was elected to the council in 2001, and was named mayor the same year. He was then elected to the California State Assembly in 2002, and re-elected to the Lodi City Council in 2010. He was selected to serve mayor for the second time in 2012.
“One thing I’ve reflected on in Alan’s time as mayor is his commitment to the community,” Bartlam said. “He is a tireless worker who tries to engage the community as much as possible.”
Nakanishi said the last time he left the mayor’s seat he gave certificates to his fellow council members in appreciation for their work and dedication to the city. This time, he also gave certificates of appreciation to Bartlam, City Attorney Steve Schwabauer and City Clerk Randi Johl-Olson.
He also gave a bouquet to his wife Sue, and remarked with a smile that he did not give her anything the last time he passed the gavel.
Nakanishi highlighted some of his accomplishments as mayor in 2013, including holding town hall meetings to improve relations with the community on topics such as education, crime and the city’s budget.
He also noted holding several meetings with both State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, and San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel to improve Lodi’s relations with the county and state.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to serve as mayor a second time,” Nakanishi said. “It’s been an exciting year, and a great year, except for the horrific crash that took the lives of the Miranda family. But it gives me great pride to witness this community come together in support of the family.”
Nakanishi received a standing ovation from the some 50 guests in attendance before passing the gavel to Katzakian.
Before Katzakian’s short acceptance speech as mayor, Councilwoman Joanne Mounce nominated colleague Larry Hansen to the mayor pro tempore seat. He was also approved by a unanimous vote.
Hansen announced that 2014 would be his 12th and last year on the council, and said he would put as much energy into his final term as he had put into his first.
Hansen added that he’d like to see more community members participate in the invocation at each council meeting this year.
He said during his 2009 term as mayor, the council and city fought hard to include the invocations at meetings. Hansen said he received thousands of emails from people all over the country who supported the decision.
Since that time, however, Hansen said he was disappointed with the lack of participation from local clergy at meetings.
“I’m hoping we can recharge the battery and encourage members of the community to support these blessings at meetings again,” he said. “You don’t even have to be a member of a religious group or organization. As long as you have something positive you want to share, I think we would love to have you participate.”
Johl-Olson told Hansen the city will send letters out to all members of the local religious community inviting them to participate in the invocation. Clergy members can call the city and schedule a meting to attend, she said.
Following the short ceremony, Katzakian posed for photos with his wife, son and future daughter-in-law, before everyone in attendance was invited into the Carnegie Forum foyer for refreshments provided by Jan’s Sweet Treasures.