Santa Paula Council: Ginger Gherardi Becomes Mayor on Tumultuous Night

By Sheryl Hamlin

December 4, 2017 started with strong Santa Ana winds, which appeared to grow into the afternoon, according to a local tree watcher. The Santa Paula City Council meeting agenda included the traditional turnover of the mayoral seat on the first meeting of the last month of the first half of the fiscal year. Students, citizens and staff packed the chambers. A festive display of treats met the arriving citizens.

Presentation by Ventura City College

An update on Ventura College East Campus was presentated by Ventura County Community College District Chair Bernardo Perez, Chancellor and Dr. Greg Gillespie and President Mr. David Keebler. To watch this presentation, click here.

Sirens and Departures

Near the commencement of the meeting, sirens could be heard in the room. All uniformed police and fire left the room quietly without announcement. Eyes exchanged glances on the dais, while the presentation by the Ventura City College continued.

At the end of the presentation and several important questions from Mayor Crosswhite and Vice Mayor Gherardi, Mayor Crosswhite politely thanked them for the presentation and agreed to keep the communication open.

Council Member Hernandez left the dais. Mr. Rock received information and announced that an out-of-control fire emanating from Steckel Park was in progress. Mayor Crosswhite proposed a break.

Break Huddle

The four remaining council members, City Manager Rock and City Attorney conferred about the remainder of the agenda.

Break Conference

Resumption of Meeting

After the break, the four remaining council members approved the Consent Calendar with Council Member Procter abstaining on item D. Other items on the agenda, including Public Comments, were deferred, except for the election of the new Mayor and Vice Mayor.


Vice Mayor Gherardi was nominated for Mayor with Council Member Garman nominated for Vice Mayor. Both were elected unanimously. The meeting was adjourned.

Ginger Gherardi sits as Mayor on December 4, 2017

Clint Garman elected as Vice Mayor


With the fire rapidly moving across town, evacuations went in to effect early in the evening. Living near the lower boundary on the map below, we were evacuated around 7:30 pm and spent the night in town situated so that we could see the fires burning from east to west across the hill. Twelve hours later, we returned to the house where smoldering embers continued on the hill across the street. The reassuring sound of choppers mid-morning meant that serious work would begin to contain the fire.

Boundaries of Fire, source: KVTA

A calm, efficient council meeting and a massive, inter-agency response to the wild fire were engrained into city lore on December 4, 2017.

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