Retired scientist and second-term Planning Commissioner Gina Bonanno has been appointed to the Livermore City Council, returning the city's governing body to a full five-member roster, which is now also majority women.
"In two short years, we have gone from a council that was five guys -- three of them named Bob -- to a council that is now not," Vice Mayor Trish Munro said, calling attention to the new diversity on the dais after the council voted unanimously in favor of Bonanno on Monday night.
Councilman Bob Carling agreed with Munro, saying Bonanno's appointment is a "great step forward for all of us."
In addition to her previous professional career as a scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Bonanno has served as chair of the City Asset Management Program Committee and a member of the Livermore Planning Commission since 2015.
The new appointee will be formally sworn in tonight (Jan. 26) to fill the regular council seat vacated by Bob Woerner upon his ascension to mayor, finishing out the at-large council term that expires in December 2022.
"I believe the council's overarching priorities should be to provide effective, inclusive and compassionate leadership along with the theme of unity and community spirit," Bonanno said as part of her response to the council during the public interview panel on Monday evening.
Each finalist was interviewed during the online meeting and asked a single, two-part question: "What are the most important priorities for the council to tackle over the length of your term and why should we consider you for this position?"
Bonanno added that she believes the most "immediate and urgent priority" for the council to tackle is leading the community through the coronavirus pandemic and its recovery, including focusing on public health measures, providing timely and accurate information to the public and helping the hardest hit businesses "get back on their feet," all while maintaining the financial stability of the city.
Bonanno -- a 20-year Livermore resident -- also cited asset management and infrastructure maintenance, addressing homelessness, updating the city's General Plan and ongoing projects like the Valley Link rail system as important priorities facing the council over the next two years.
"I believe my years on the Planning Commission as well as on the Asset Management Committee, the downtown steering committee and the library board provide me with a broad and deep understanding of city governance, city services, finances and the complexities of a city whose population is nearing 100,000," she said, adding that in these roles she's exhibited the ability to be "a thoughtful decision maker, an effective communicator and an attentive listener to members of the public."
The council, which had been down to four members after voters elevated Woerner to mayor in the November election, decided earlier this month to interview all 21 people who applied for the vacant council position. However, only 17 applicants opted to participate in the interview process, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 19 but delayed until Monday following the death of Munro's father.
After each applicant was given up to five minutes to answer the two-part question, the sitting council members chose their top three candidates and submitted them to the city clerk who tabulated their responses and shared them with the public. All four council members selected Bonanno as their No. 1 choice.
The other top four candidates were Village High School teacher Evan Branning, life and business coach Abigail Helfer, University of California at Merced student Faith Nordvik and Mendenhall Middle School teacher Kyra Pervere.
A complete recording of the meeting is available here.