After a few tumultuous years, the City of Fremont is ready to move forward with a new leadership team determined to take on the many challenges the city faces.
On Tuesday night, the city swore in new mayor Bill Harrison along with new councilman Vinnie Bacon and councilwoman Sue Chan, who will begin her second consecutive term on the Council.
The city also said farewell to Councilman Dominic Dutra and interim Mayor Gus Morrison during a special ceremony. Bodies filled the council chambers, lined the walls and spilled into the lobby, where a reception was held for the night’s honorees.
“If I would have known they liked me this much I would have never left,” joked Dutra, who was appointed in January 2010 to fill the seat left vacant by Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski. Dutra, whose family has deep roots in Fremont, previously served four years on the council in 2002.
Morrison served on City Council with Dutra’s father, John Dutra, in the past. “I often wondered if anybody could do their homework more completely and better than John Dutra — and yes, Dominic Dutra,” Morrison said.
Morrison was also honored for not only his current year of service, but for his continued dedication to the City of Fremont.
Morrison was appointed interim mayor in January after the passing of late mayor Bob Wasswerman last December.
According to Harrison, Morrison proclaimed himself to be “Fremont’s first recycled mayor.”
Collectively, Morrison has served 25 years in office, beginning as a councilman in 1978. He was elected mayor in 1985 and served until 1989. He then became a councilman again from 1991 to 1994 and again served as mayor from 1994 to 2004.
Among his many legacies in Fremont is the preservation of Fremont’s hills, his colleagues noted.
“Every time I see our beautiful hills, I think of Gus Morrison,” Dutra said. “I wish I had that legacy.”
Morrison was presented with a commemorative pin honoring his 25 years of service.
“I don’t know if there’s any other elected official who would get that,” Harrison said.
During a speech, Morrison reflected on Fremont’s transformation from a city of 43,000 in the 1960s to a diverse and thriving city of 217,000 today.
“We’ve built a remarkable place — vibrant colors, different voices, people from all over,” Morrison said.
“You need to protect it, keep it for the future, and don’t screw it up. That’s your job,” Morrison told the new council.
The new mayor and council will have a lot on their plate.
The last few years have been shaky for Fremont with the passing of Wasserman, tighter budget constraints, the loss of redevelopment and the loss of large companies such as Solyndra and NUMMI. But the city is bouncing back, officials said.
“Together we weathered the storm, coming out a little bit battered but definitely stronger for our efforts,” Chan said.
The new council said they look forward to developing the Warm Springs district and turning the downtown area into a unique shopping center. Chan said the city plans to build parks and a civic plaza downtown, with the possibility of a performing arts center in the future.
"I’m confident that our mayor Harrison and my fellow city council members will work together to make the best decisions for the best interests of Fremont," Chan said.
During his speech, Harrison, who was first elected to City Council in 2006 and re-elected in 2010, said that he will focus his efforts on boosting Fremont’s economy.
“I’m excited to work with existing small businesses and big businesses in Fremont, and even more excited to cast a net out to attract new businesses to Fremont as we continue to expand our economic base,” Harrison said. “We’re going to do all this to make our great city even better.”