An evening of recognizing outgoing council members and welcoming the newly elected culminated Tuesday night with the selection of Peter Ohtaki as mayor and Ray Mueller as vice mayor for Menlo Park.
Community members, local officials and colleagues thanked Kelly Fergusson and Andy Cohen, who left the dais after eight years of service on the council.
"You all serve our community so well," Patti Fry said.
Ms. Fergusson, who lost her bid for a third term, received kudos for her work on everything from the downtown specific plan to the city's block parties to advocating for the use of native tree species.
She thanked her family and supporters. "It certainly has been a privilege to serve the people of Menlo Park during these past eight years."
Mr. Cohen, acknowledged for his outspoken support of "the underdog" on issues such as housing, likewise thanked his colleagues and the public.
"I have often been a challenge to work with," he noted.
Mr. Mueller and Catherine Carlton, who collected 5,841 and 5,530 votes respectively in the November election, were sworn in.
That left choosing the new mayor and vice mayor as the final business of the evening. The city's non-binding policy states that council members who have served at least one year and have yet to hold the lead office take priority, leaving Peter Ohtaki as the top choice to replace Kirsten Keith as mayor.
Making her first official motion as a council member, Ms. Carlton nominated Mr. Mueller as vice mayor, with the rest of the council in agreement.
The new council has its work cut out. "My heart's been heavy these past few weeks," Mr. Mueller said, referring to the spate of violence in the city. He declared chasing crime from the city to be his top priority.
Mayor Ohtaki appeared ready to get down to business. He said he was excited about the "economic renaissance" of Menlo Park, and looking forward to using technology to streamline the city's business development process.
The Dec. 4 meeting then adjourned to the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center for a reception.