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Hughson welcomes new council members
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After eight months of chaos in the small Valley town of Hughson, a sense of victory was evident at Monday’s City Council meeting as three new council members were sworn into office.

“I am ready to get down to city business,” said Jill Silva, new council member who took the place of resigned council member Ben Manley.

Silva joined new council members George Carr, who replaced Thom Crowder, and Jeramy Young, who replaced Doug Humphreys, as they all asked to take their oaths of office together making Monday their very first council meeting.  

Cheers, standing ovations and shouts of “hear, hear” were voiced by the over 30 community members as they celebrated the replacements of three council members who were recalled on Aug. 24 after the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury found them in violation of the Brown Act, the Hughson Municipal Code and the Fair Political Practices Regulations and Code in December 2009.

A moment was given to reflect on the circumstances which led to the need of a recall election.

 “It was a sad day for the City of Hughson,” said Mayor Ramon Bawanan. “We had to remove three council members for breaking the law.”

Apart from the community’s embarrassment from the actions of the three council members and a $23,000 cost to the city to recall Manley, Humphreys and Crowder, Bawanan experienced one of his proudest moments.

“There is no prouder mayor in the county, and for that matter, the United States, than I am today,” he said.

Despite the long and difficult hurdle the City of Hughson has overcome with the recall election, two new hurdles still need to be jumped — the budget and the hiring of a new city manager.

The council will hold a budget study workshop at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7 to go over the 2010-2011 budget that was supposed to be passed in June.

Also, city manager final interviews are expected to be done either Sept. 6 or Sept. 20, depending on the availability of the last two candidates and the council.

As the small town of Hughson slowly starts to gain momentum on their new beginning, the chaos that ran the city for months at a time did have one positive outcome — a renewed sense of community involvement.

“This ignites a whole Renaissance of community involvement,” said Hughson Council member Matt Beekman, trying to hold back tears of joy. “There was a time when the city wanted a pool and people would grab a shovel and dig a hole. We need to get back to that.”

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.