The two newest members of the Napa City Council spent months promising to uphold the needs of the whole community. The road to their goal began at noon Monday, before a capacity audience at their new workplace.
Amid cheers and applause from more than 100 relatives, friends and well-wishers, Liz Alessio and Mary Luros were sworn into office at a City Hall ceremony, 27 days after scoring the top two vote counts in the council election. They replace three-term Councilmember Peter Mott, who finished fifth in the Nov. 6 race, and Jim Krider, a 2017 appointee who declined to appear on the ballot.
“There’s so much to do and this is such an exciting time,” said Luros, who previously was appointed to the council in 2015 and served for 22 months. “I’m eager to get to work, and work to make this the special community it can be.”
“Wow. What a day, what a moment,” Alessio told the audience. “It’s humbling; it’s an incredible honor to serve Napa and serve its beautiful residents on the City Council. We have a lot of work ahead and I’m ready for that work – I feel like I was born for this work.”
After promising before City Clerk Dorothy Roberts to uphold city law and the federal and California constitutions, the new councilmembers turned toward the audience section, with Alessio embracing former Mayor Ed Henderson and Luros hugging her husband, Jason Luros. Then the women took their places on the dais, with Mott leaving his chair for Luros – who was defeated in her first council campaign in 2016 – and Krider making away for Alessio.
The moment did not pass without a touch of levity from Krider, who presented a symbolic gift to each new Napa council member – a can of worms, or more precisely, a steel can filled with gummy worms, one of which Alessio popped into her mouth to the audience’s chuckles.
Alessio, a former city parks commissioner and an organizer of the nonprofit Operation: With Love from Home, led the Napa field with 29.7 percent of the vote, according to updated election results published Thursday. Luros, a Napa attorney, garnered 24 percent.
Their first full slate of city business begins Tuesday when the Napa council will review plans for the Vista Grove housing development, which would feature 27 single-family homes plus 11 attached junior housing units. The project, which also would include plumbing connections to create five more so-called granny flats or second units, is an example of the denser housing construction increasingly favored by city officials as a way to protect some Napans from being priced out of the local market.
Alessio and Luros will begin taking on another of their key issues – the form and expense of Napa’s future civic center downtown – when the City Council gathers for a special meeting Dec. 11 about the project that would create a new home for city departments and police. In candidate debates and public forums, both women questioned the scale of the project and its potential cost, which has been estimated at $121 million including the cost of temporary office space during construction.