Temecula pays tribute to McCracken; swears in Stewart to city council

Newly elected Temecula City Councilman James Stewart. Among other issues within the community, Stewart aims to focus on infrastructure, and to push for a police station headquarters within the city, as opposed to the current station on Auld Road outside the city boundary. Stewart would like to help make Temecula's old city hall building located at 43200 Business Park Dr., repurposed into a police station.  Courtesy photo
Newly elected Temecula City Councilman James Stewart. Among other issues within the community, Stewart aims to focus on infrastructure, and to push for a police station headquarters within the city, as opposed to the current station on Auld Road outside the city boundary. Stewart would like to help make Temecula’s old city hall building located at 43200 Business Park Dr., repurposed into a police station. Courtesy photo

The city of Temecula accepted results from the Nov. 8 regular election and swore in new Councilman James Stewart during its Tuesday, Nov. 13, meeting and also swore in Councilman Mike Naggar for another term.

Mayor Naggar recognized Councilman Michael McCracken for the time he spent on council before he and Stewart took the oath of office.

“I have a plaque here for you and it says in deep appreciation for your service. The plaque is just really not enough in all honesty,” Naggar said. “A lot of people don’t know that you have been serving on the community service commission for about nine years. And during that time, you did your job. You didn’t desire to stand out you just did the job that the council asked you to do … . You were always there.”

Naggar reminded the audience that when Supervisor Chuck Washington, then a member of the city council was tapped by the governor to take over the 3rd District supervisor seat left vacant by Jeff Stone’s election to the California State Senate, 23 people applied for the available seat on the council.

“We appointed you to fill that seat, that 18-month period, and you did that in the same manner in which you worked on the community service commission.,” Naggar said. “You hit the ground running. You knew how the city operated; you came in, you filled the slot, you were a consummate team player, and you did the work. For that, I commend you.”

Councilman Matt Rahn said it had been “an absolute pleasure working” with McCracken.

“It’s been an amazing journey with you,” he said.

Councilman Jeff Commerchero said that McCracken “had an incredible heart for the city and Councilwoman Maryann Edwards said McCracken had been hiding in plain sight while he was deployed and that the minute he came home, he founded the city’s Salute to Veteran’s program.

“You served honorably on community services commission and he was at every single event and he really was a lifeline to our veterans and forged a stronger bond even than we had had previously with our veterans,” Edwards said. “Something that you never hear about Michael is that he educated himself while he was on the ship, got two masters degrees one in education and one in organization management. It really showed.”

Edwards said that he had a heart for veterans and the community.

“Once a councilmember, always a councilmember and you are definitely a part of the family,” Edwards said.

McCracken addressed the crowd, thanking them for their support.

“For the past 10 years, I have been one of Temecula’s biggest fans. I say that because I have had the opportunity to serve the city on active duty and also as a commissioner and a councilmember,” he said. “The learning curve is steep. Managing a fulltime job, wife and beautiful daughter’s going to school fulltime and my organization of veterans in Temecula Valley, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.”

McCracken said that the chance to serve the city was something he would never forget and that the five people who sit on the dais may not agree on everything but residents can’t tell. He thanked those who made his time on council possible.

“It’s hard to say I’m leaving because my passion is still here but I would do this for free,” he said. “I just really appreciate the opportunity to serve the city.”

Immediately after McCracken’s speech, council got to work swearing in Naggar to another term and Stewart into his first term on the dais.

Stewart thanked his wife for “putting up with his adventures along the way” and his sister and mother for coming out to see him be sworn in.

“I’m really excited to work with these four very great people and I do feel honored to be sitting here,” Stewart said. “I understand how Mac feels and I definitely give him props for what he has done during his 18 months here.”

Commerchero said it would be a great four years and that he wanted to thank the voters for approving Measure S, a one-cent on the dollar sales tax that will help to fund police, fire and other things the city had put on hold after the recession hit in 2008.

“What you did was set the financial future of this city for decades to come,” he said. “It wasn’t about just having extra money, it was about needing extra money and making sure that what we built over the first 27 years or so of Temecula will be the end result 20 years from now, 220 years from now, 30 years from now and that we will be able to remain a great city and not slide into mediocrity which was the fear that we expressed when we found out our budget would go negative.”

Edwards said the residents have set the tone for the city’s future with the passage of Measure S.

“Temecula is now secure,” Edwards said.

After council waxed poetic on the passage of Measure S, the group then named Edwards as mayor and Rahn as mayor pro tem.

In other news, Commerchero will continue as president of the Community Services District and Stewart was named as vice president in a unanimous decision.

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