Stockton City Council officially swore in three new members this week at its first regular meeting of the year.
Michele Padilla, Michael Blower and Brando Villapudua took their places at the dias in front of about 200 community members and local officials Tuesday in the Press Club at the Stockton Arena. Those in attendance included former Stockton Vice Mayor Cristina Fugazi, Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua and San Joaquin County Supervisors Tom Patti and Paul Canepa.
The crowd erupted in applause for each new councilmember as they were sworn in and addressed the room before taking their new seats.
Padilla, who was given the oath of office by her mother, was visibly emotional throughout her speech, particularly when thanking her children for the sacrifices they made so she could run her campaign this election season.
“There were a lot of no dinners and fast food,” she said.
The Stockton Unified teacher now represents Stockton’s District 1, defeating former Councilmember Sol Jobrack in his bid for reelection. Padilla described herself as a mother, wife, school teacher and, now, a Stockton city councilmember, thanking family and friends, as well as those who helped with the campaign, for getting her this far.
“What an honor. And I’m truly humbled by the community that entrusted me to work for the people of Stockton,” Padilla said, ending her remarks with a promise of action. “But enough talking for me tonight. The time has come now for me to show you better than I can tell you.”
A “lifelong Stocktonian” and realtor, Blower promptly took a selfie with his daughter, who’d administered his oath office, following his swearing in, prompting giggles from the crowd. Blower said he couldn’t believe this day was finally here.
Blower garnered more than 50% of the vote during the Primary Election six months ago, catapulting him to instant victory as the city’s District 3 representative and nulling the need for a General Election contest. He takes over from former City Councilmember Paul Canepa, who was sworn in last week as a San Joaquin County supervisor.
“It’s kind of an interesting thing to win an election in June, and then waited almost half a year to get to work,” he said, but clarified that he wasn’t complaining. “It was nice to get that taken care of.”
The newly-minted councilmember thanked voters, supporters and his family, as well as the many organizations and officials who endorsed him, specifically Councilmember Susan Lenz, whom Blower ran against and lost to for her current District 4 seat in 2016 and was his first endorsement and first financial contributor this go around. Blower had been appointed to the seat following Councilmember Moses Zapien’s appointment to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.
Most of all Blower wanted to get started.
“I’m ready to go. I think we have a great Council. I’m so excited to work with Mayor Kevin Lincoln. And I’m so excited to work with City Manager Harry Black,” Blower said. “We are all going to work hard for you. We are going to do everything we can to make Stockton a better place.”
Villapudua was administered the oath of office by his brother and a familiar face to most Stocktonians, California state Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua.
“We’re all very proud of you. We’re very excited,” Assemblymember Villapudua said to his brother. “Let’s get this started.”
The former Stockton city planning commissioner and Stockton native thanked all those who’ve helped and supported him in his bid to become the city’s District 5 representative. Villapudua took over the seat from termed-out former Vice Mayor Fugazi after winning election in November.
Stockton and what the community has to offer is a source of pride for him, Villapudua said. With everyone’s support that community will continue to change, thrive and improve.
“I’m not going anywhere else,” he said. “I’m committed to dedicating my life’s work to my city.”