New Portola mayor and mayor pro tem shift into position

Mayor Phil Oels
Carolyn Shipp
Staff Writer

The new mayor of Portola, Phil Oels, is stepping into a tough position. However, as the public expressed at the City Council meeting Dec. 11, the community is renewing its spirit and hoping to shed its days of struggle.

The public comment portion of the meeting was full of gratitude and excitement over the success of the Portola Tree Lighting event. Audrey Ellis, director of the Eastern Plumas Chamber of Commerce, presented a video highlighting the parade and other events the evening featured. She reported, that along with crowds of hundreds of people, more than 100 kids got to meet and take pictures with Santa.

“It really does show the enthusiasm for this city,” said Mayor John Larrieu.

“I want to thank everyone for what I think was the best Christmas Tree Lighting I have ever experienced,” said interim city manager Todd Roberts during his city manager’s report.

When the council approved the consent calendar it was time for Mayor John Larrieu to pass the gavel after his year term as mayor.

Beginning in 1999, the City Council has customarily appointed the mayor and mayor pro tem to serve one-year terms, which commence in December every year. The mayor pro tem is also then appointed as the mayor based on a 3-2 vote.

Mayor Pro Tem Oels was appointed to the position after a nomination by Council Member Bill Powers. Council Member Michelle Gault was appointed mayor pro tem. The council finalized the decision with a unanimous vote.

Mayor Oels will face the challenge of hiring a new city manager, a feat he was reminded of that night during the special meeting that was called after the regular meeting.

Tim Cooley, the acting chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Portola Coalition, presented some input on the city manager job description during the meeting. He said the coalition believed that the description would be better if it was put into bullet points.

He recommended the description be brought back to the ad hoc committee and reformed into simple bullet points.

Council Member Powers agreed with the bullet-point suggestion, saying, “Narratives get people lost in the words.”

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