The Gene Bianchi Community Center was packed with well-wishers for the special council meeting hosted Monday evening, Dec. 10 as the City Clerk swore in newly elected Mayor JR McCarty, council members Cherilyn Bairos and Christopher Smith, and said goodbye to outgoing Mayor Pat Paul.
City Manager Bryan Whitemyer, who was recruited by Paul to join the Oakdale city staff, had some nice things to say about Paul as the city prepared to say their goodbyes to the woman who has sat at the helm for the past eight years as the guiding force through tough and lean years.
“She loves Oakdale,” Whitemyer said of Paul. “She has served with all her heart … I can’t think of a person who loves Oakdale more than Mayor Paul.”
During her tenure, Paul helped funnel $6 million in state funds for various Oakdale projects, always working to keep Oakdale safe and a desirable place to live.
Paul took the podium, graciously giving away the praise to everyone else – with a warm shout-out to her husband, Phil, for his continued support of her vision and dreams.
But her core belief was expressed with one humble statement as to why she has devoted so much of her life to helping others, “It’s what we should all do, step up and serve.”
Paul offered one last bit of advice to the new council, reminding them to keep the true issues important to the community – quality of life, public safety – always at the forefront but ended with a smile.
“Good luck and best to you,” she said.
However, fellow public servant Mickey Peabody took to the podium to say a few words about her longtime friend.
“I’ve always thought if you looked up the words ‘public servant’ in Webster’s Dictionary, her picture would be there,” Peabody joked about her friend, Paul. “Pat has devoted her life as a public servant.”
Paul served as a civilian attaché in the military, a public school teacher, spent 15 years as a Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors member representing the Oakdale and Riverbank areas, as well as her time spent within Oakdale City Council throughout the years.
Peabody smiled at her friend, saying, “I am so extremely proud to call her my longest friend in Oakdale.”
Following Paul’s goodbye, City Clerk Kathy Teixeira, CMC, swore in the newly elected council members, the meeting was adjourned and refreshments and time for informal visiting followed. Along with the newly sworn in trio, the council includes members Richard Murdoch and Ericka Chiara.
The next regular Oakdale City Council meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 17 at the Council chambers at 7 p.m.