At about 5:01 p.m. Lawana Tate was sworn in as the new Porterville City Council member. At 5:11 p.m. Tate was already beginning in her new duties, heading into close session.
“The journey is just starting,” Mayor Monte Reyes told Tate after was sworn in by City Manager John Lollis, adding she would begin that journey right away when she went into closed session.
Tate became Porterville's newest city council member at the beginning of Tuesday's council meeting. She represents District 1 as she replaces Daniel Penaloza, who turned in his resignation on June 8.
Tate will serve out the rest of Penaloza's term and will be up for reelection in the November, 2022 general election. Tate said she would run to retain the seat.
The council had 30 days to fill Penaloza's seat after he turned in his resignation on June 8. The council opened up the position to those who live in District 1 to apply and four applied: Tate, Edith La Vonne, Bill Jones and Adonas Nuckols.
The interview session, “which was a very competitive process,” Reyes said referring to how the sitting council members referred to the quality of the candidates was held on June 26. The council then looked to select a candidate for the position on July 6 but was unable to come to a consensus after three rounds of voting.
In each round, Kellie Carrillo voted for La Vonne, Milt Stowe voted for Jones and Martha Flores and Reyes voted for Tate. It took three of the four council members to agree for a candidate to be selected.
So as the City of Porterville Charter called for, it was up to Reyes to decide how to fill the position because it wasn't filled by July 8 and Reyes decided to appoint Tate.
“It is a privilege and a pleasure to present this item,” said Lollis at the beginning of the meeting before swearing in Tate.
“Go ahead and take your chair,” Lollis told Tate after swearing her in. All three of the council members present, Flores, Reyes and Carrillo, welcomed Tate to the council. Stowe announced at the last meeting he wouldn't be present.
“I want to genuinely welcome you and look forward to working with you,” Carrillo said.
“I'm sure you will bring a lot to the table,” Flores said.
Reyes added he was also looking forward to working with Tate.
When asked to comment, Tate said, “I'd like to thank you all. I think I said enough during the interviews so I will just listen.”
With that the council headed into closed session with Flores showing Tate which way to go.
Tate has lived in Porterville since childhood. During the interviews on June 29, Tate mentioned dealing with the issue of homelessness as one of her priorities.
Tate also talkd about the importance of health and safety, the need to recruit business and the need to focus on Main Street, also talking about her fond memories of Main Street.
She also talked about her resume, experience and background of working with bureaucracy, policies and procedure, saying that would give her an advantage as a council member. She added she was impressed with how the community pulls together during times of adversity such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said she believed the position would be challenging and would be honored to serve. In applying for the position, Tate said her commitment to community and service was motivation for her applying.
Tate is a retired psychiatric technician instructor and training officer, having worked at Porterville Developmental Center, beginning in 1978. Among the organizations she has served in is Zonta.