Maryann Edwards announced Temecula mayor for 2014 – First Temecula City Council meeting addresses questions of change, growth

The Temecula City Council skipped a large presentation and went straight to business after former Temecula Mayor Mike Naggar gave his gavel to fellow council member Maryann Edwards announcing her as the city’s mayor for the new year.

The meeting took place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14 inside the Council Chambers and Edwards and her fellow council members discussed a large agenda that included the creation of two person sub-committees, the approval of compensation stipends for council members, and the implementation of a new task force geared toward helping youth.

Before discussion commenced, Edwards began the evening not by talking about herself or her aspirations for her one year term as mayor, but rather by recognizing her colleagues for their continued service to the City of Temecula by presenting them with awards.

She presented Former Mayor Naggar with a plaque for his service as mayor before giving Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Comerchero a plaque for his work as a community services district president for 2013.

Al Cosentino, who helped the council by serving on their public traffic safety commission, received a certificate of appreciation from Edwards as well.

As the evening progressed it seemed as though the council was focused on the city’s continued growth and change and the progression of time that facilitated it.

Later awards focused on time served as a council member or commission member.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Comerchero was honored for 20 years of service to the city, Council Member Naggar was honored for 15 years, Council Member Chuck Washington was honored for 10 years and Community Services Commision Member Charlotte Fox was honored for 10 years.

Fox said she recalled a time at the start of her work as commissioner when things were very different in Temecula.

“Many things have changed,” Fox said. “But I think the thing I notice most is the way we conduct business in our commissions and improvements I see in the city because of the service of the commissioners.”

The discussion of commissioners and the role they play toward the betterment of the city would be commonplace throughout the night and especially during the discussion of new subcommittees to be implemented.

Many other council members appeared confused as council member Mike Naggar tried to explain two new ad-hoc subcommittees he wanted to implement for the new year.

One of the subcommittees, The Commission Review Ad-Hoc Subcommittee, was a proposed two person subcommittee which sought to serve as a gage for how various city-created commissions were doing.

“The impetus behind that is these commissions were formed in 1992,” said Naggar. “It’s time that we visit them and that they reflect today and it may be that they very well do reflect today. And if that’s the case I don’t need the report coming back.”

The other, The Infill, Land Use and Project Review Ad Hoc Subcommittee, was a two person subcommittee which sought to look at construction and building projects as Temecula will soon reach its outward growth limit as far as construction.

While most of the city council appeared outwardly supportive of the second of the two subcommittees, some council members voiced hesitation about the first one.

Council Member Washington, for example, pointed out an apparent overlap when he mentioned that one of the commissions Naggar wished to look at in the subcommittee, the Human Services commission, already had a supervisory subcommittee chaired by Maryann Edwards and Naggar.

“You and Maryann are the human services Ad-Hoc committee,” said Washington. “What would you be doing differently in that subcomittee than what you just outlined you wanted to look at in terms of the human services?”

Naggar went on to explain that his vision for the committee would be one where aspects of human services, but not every part of it, would be analyzed and critiqued.

“One is a committee that makes a determination on various human services components and one would have a look at human services as a whole from the commission level,” said Naggar. “I mean, when you’re talking about human services, we have things with autism, down syndrome, senior citizens, but none of that has to do with the commission proper.”

“Can I add, and this isn’t the agenda issue so we shouldn’t get into it too much, but I kind of disagree with you Mike,” said Comerchero. “I know that way back when I was on the community services commission, it was the commission’s charge, I believe it is still the commission’s charge, to handle that, to handle all of those things you mentioned.”

“When we first bought the Pujol Street community center that was converted from a community center to a human services center and that’s where we ran programs and the like and it was all done under the community services banner,” he said.

After some back and forth discussion, both committees were ultimately approved as council members didn’t want to deal with the ramifications of creating an informal subcommittee to look at various commissions and their performance.

The evening ended on a positive note, with council members introducing this year’s task force for the City Council Action Committee for Health and Family Safety or CAC-HFS, a group of individuals tasked with discussing important issues affecting the health of young people and families in the city and providing important health- and safety-related information to city residents.

The task force includes three student representatives from Great Oak, Chaparral and Temecula Valley High Schools who will be providing their unique perspectives as younger members of the community as well as a number of other community members who are interested in maintaining the well-being and safety of area residents.

Maryann Edwards said she was excited by the task force and what they were going to bring to the table this year.

“It’s a pretty big task, don’t you think?” asked Edwards. “But I think you’re all up to it.”

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