As the new year comes in, so does a for the elected leaders of Redwood City.
Former Vice Mayor Alicia Aguirre will become the mayor, while City Councilman Jeff Gee will assume her previous position and last year's Mayor Jeff Ira will resume being a member of the City Council.
This type of rotation takes place on an annual basis locally, as elected officials share the responsibility of serving as mayor, and other similar high-ranking positions.
Yet still, the responsibility to serve as mayor honors Aguirre.
"It feels wonderful," she said. "It is very exciting to have this opportunity."
Aguirre, who was re-elected to a third term last November, said that she is ready to accept the challenges that come with leading one of the largest and most influential cities in San Mateo County.
As a top priority, she said that the city's leadership should focus on paving the way to allow small businesses to thrive.
Streamlining the permitting process to make it more efficient and simple could be a key step toward making the city more friendly for independently owned, local companies, said Aguirre.
She said helping will go toward improving the financial health of Redwood City in 2012.
"I think our number one challenge is the economy," said Aguirre.
Ira concurred, and said it is also necessary to ensure that local services are provided in the most proficient fashion.
He said Redwood City should continue looking for more ways , by banding with nearby cities to offer a product that benefits both communities.
"It's the right direction to go in," he said. "It's more efficient, and more cost effective."
Ira said that the regional approach to providing community services can save the city money, which is also a part of a three-pronged plan that is intended to lead toward long-term financial solvency.
The two other elements of that plan include savings realized through , as well as increased revenue brought in via the recently and .
"Across the board, in every department, there is room for regionalization," said Ira.
As well, he suggested that the city look for opportunities to fold some similar departments together, in order to identify opportunities for greater efficiency.
He suggested the possibility that the city's Maintenance Department be blended with the , which could potentially become part of the .
And Ira guaranteed that moves of a similar nature would be forthcoming, but could not predict how exactly they would play out.
"There will be changes within the next year," he said. "We will see when the rubber hits the road."
Gee agreed, and said that the effort to identify opportunities for regionalization or consolidation is the continuation of a direction put forth by the council to City Manager Bob Bell last year.
But ultimately, the biggest obstacle facing Redwood City in the upcoming year is the , said Gee.
A recent state Supreme Court ruling further jeopardized the fate of a challenge by a coalition of cities in California to the legality of the effort by the state legislature to stake claim on local redevelopment revenues.
And though the future of redevelopment is uncertain, Gee said Redwood City needs to prepare for the worst case scenario.
"In this new world, how do we move forward?" Gee asked.
As is the case for other pressing questions the leadership of Redwood City will be faced with in 2012...the answer hangs in the balance.
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