City of Oakley appoints new mayor and vice mayor

City Council members donned white sunglasses at last Tuesday’s Oakley Council meeting to show their camaraderie with outgoing Mayor Sue Higgins. Higgins is known by her Facebook followers and the Oakley community for the white plastic sunglasses she wears for many of the photos she posts on social media.

Higgins, who is affectionately referred to as “Mayor Sue,” was so delighted with the display of affection from her fellow council members that she asked for a photo to be taken of the five men and women in their new white sunglasses, which was quickly uploaded to Facebook by her many supporters and well-wishers.

During the brief changing-of-the-guard ceremony, Higgins recounted some of the highlights of the year she has spent as mayor of the small city of Oakley, which has recently seen a growth spurt and now estimates a population of 42,000 residents.

“A lot has happened with the refurbished parks, the new statue and an added 150 new businesses this year,” she said.

Higgins went on to say that she is “honored and privileged to serve all of you and the greater community.”

When she left the podium, she was quick to end her time as mayor by taking a selfie of herself and the people in the council Chamber audience.

Once again as a regular council member, Higgins nominated Vice Mayor Randy Pope as the next mayor for the city of Oakley. The nomination was approved by the entire council. A quick second nomination was made from Councilmember Doug Hardcastle for Claire Alaura to serve as the next vice mayor. The council voted unanimously in Alaura’s favor.

After the vote, the council briefly recessed the meeting for refreshments, which included a cake to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the grand opening of the Oakley City Hall, and reconvened with Pope conducting the meeting as mayor for the rest of the evening.

This is the second time in the eight years Pope has served on the City Council that he has been appointed the position as mayor. Oakley does not host mayoral elections, but appoints their mayor and vice mayor each year through a vote of the City Council.

When not taking care of his duties for the city council, Pope is a 25-year veteran of the Oakland police force where he is a sergeant. He and his wife, Kristi, have lived in Oakley for 15 years and have three young children who attend Oakley elementary and middle schools.

Pope told the council meeting audience that he does not think of himself as a politician but as a statesman. “I feel very honored, privileged and very humbled,” he said.

Pope went on to say that “Oakley is growing in the right direction,” saying that he would like to see residents be more educated, involved and engaged in that process.

Alaura has only served as a member of the Oakley City Council for one year, but she says has learned a lot, and always has room to grow and learn more.

“I’m honored and excited that they (councilmembers) trust in me to do this job,” she said.

Alaura is a full-time parent of two young children. She volunteers a lot of her time with the Gehringer Elementary School PTA, but over the past year serving on the City Council she has attended many more meetings and spent more time getting to know a lot of different organizations in the city.

Since the Oakley City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month and the next meeting would have been the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the council has cancelled the last meeting for the year and will meet up again on Jan. 9 for the first meeting of the new year.

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