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Santa Cruz council leans a little less left

Santa Cruz council leans a little less left



Nov. 28, 2002
By Ken McLaughlin
Mercury News

The Santa Cruz City Council picked businesswoman Emily Reilly for
mayor on a night when the famously left-leaning council officially
drifted toward the right.
But “right” is relative. This is, after all, Santa Cruz.
Former mayors Mike Rotkin and Cynthia Mathews, both viewed
“as not progressive enough” by some Santa Cruz leftists, were
sworn in as council members Tuesday night. Critics of Rotkin and
Mathews contend that they are too willing to work with business
interests, a charge they dismiss as nonsense.
“I’ve not stopped being a socialist,” said Rotkin, who made
national news in 1982 when he became the city’s first socialist
Rotkin, 57, returns to the council after a two-year break required by
term limits. He was the top vote-getter in the Nov. 5 election.
“We do live in a capitalist system,” said Rotkin, who along with
other council members expressed concern about the city’s
burgeoning budget deficit.
Mathews, 60, also is seen as being on the “pragmatic” part of the
progressive spectrum. She finished second in the election.
Rotkin said the council goal should be making sure the city has a
healthy business climate. He has vowed to revive a plan for a
hotel-conference center near the beach.
Keith Sugar, Christopher Krohn and Tim Fitzmaurice were swept into
office in 1998 vowing to crush such a plan. They did.
But neither Sugar nor Krohn, who served as mayor the past year,
chose to seek re-election. Both got standing ovations when they
stepped down from the council dais Tuesday night.
The moderate progressives clearly were in charge Tuesday night.
Reilly, owner of Emily’s Good Things To Eat on Mission Street, was
unanimously elected mayor.
“Too many people think Reilly’s a pushover,” said Fitzmaurice, the
No. 3 vote-getter, who said that keeping city politics from roaring
out of control requires the skills of a “lion tamer.” But Fitzmaurice
and others said Reilly’s amiable demeanor belies her toughness.
“We have a lot of work to do this year,” Reilly, 55, told the jammed
chamber Tuesday night. “We will have a good time, though,
because we are smart, and we truly care. And we have you to
remind us that although you want us to take the work seriously,
you don’t necessarily want us to take ourselves too seriously.”
Scott Kennedy, another council veteran who is also seen as a
moderate, was elected vice-mayor.
Krohn, who several weeks ago often appeared on national TV
following the town’s medicinal-pot giveaway and groundbreaking
vote to oppose war in Iraq, noted that 26 other cities have now
taken similar votes.
“The Santa Cruz consciousness is spreading across our country,”
said Krohn, who warned the council about making “deals with the
Contact Ken McLaughlin at kmclaughlin (at) or (831)

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