Riverbank City Council members gathered on Monday, Aug. 26 for the regularly scheduled council meeting and with just a handful of items on the agenda, no one could have anticipated what would happen by evening’s end.
Catching most attendees by surprise, at the end of the meeting Councilmember Dotty Nygard announced her resignation from the Riverbank City Council.
There is a year remaining on the seat that Nygard is leaving and Sept. 1 was her last day as part of the Riverbank City Council. Nygard expressed that this was a very difficult decision to make, but due to “very personal family matters” and moving out of the area, it is best for her family.
“It’s been an incredible privilege to represent this community,” said Nygard. “I feel we have some very talented and dedicated individuals in our community and it has been an honor to serve with them.”
Nygard was on the council for three years and was involved in several events and organizations around the community. For the past four years she had taken over the duties of Beyond Earth Day and started the Riverbank Community Gardens in 2009. Nygard also coordinated the Farmers Market for the past three years along with the Children’s Health and Safety Fair. She started Get Fit Riverbank in 2011.
Nygard was also named Woman of the Year for Stanislaus County for all the accomplishments she made within the Riverbank community.
“I love Riverbank,” said Nygard. “It’s a great sense of community when you have people come together and I am proud to be a part of that.”
The reason she ran for a seat on the council was her passion for the community, she said. It was important for her to bring the community together with family fun events that everyone could enjoy.
“I will miss Riverbank, but I feel our community leaders are dedicated and committed to helping Riverbank be successful,” said Nygard. “I have no doubt that they will succeed in striving to make Riverbank a vital and healthy community.”
The Riverbank City Council was running with only four members from November 2012 until June 2013, after Richard O’Brien moved into the Mayor’s seat and left his councilmember seat vacant during the November 2012 elections. The reason for the six-month vacancy was due to a split decision between the council on whether to appoint the person that came in with the third highest votes for two available council seats in the November election or to hold a special election. Councilmember Nygard and Darlene Barber-Martinez both agreed that they would prefer a special election. O’Brien and Councilmember Jeanine Tucker both agreed to appoint the person who had the next highest votes from the November election. The city had to go to the special election, which saw Cal Campbell voted into office in June of this year.
With 1,124 votes, Campbell was elected in the special election and officially took the Oath of Office on Monday, June 10. Campbell was also the person in the November 2012 elections that came in third place behind Tucker and Barber-Martinez with the highest number of votes.
The special election cost the City of Riverbank approximately $56,000.
For a little over two months the council was complete with five members and now with Nygard’s departure the council will be back to four members on the council.
Again the council will again be faced with the decision whether to hold a special election or appoint someone to the post, which they will discuss at the next council meeting on Monday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m.
The sentiment from several people at the Monday night meeting where Nygard announced her resignation was of shock and surprise, tinged with some sadness.
“This took everyone by surprise,” said Councilmember Cal Campbell. “She (Nygard) will be missed in the community because she was a real go getter, she got things done and she spearheaded events like the Farmers Market, Beyond Earth Day and the Community Gardens and she put a lot of energy and enthusiasm into making this community a better place.”
“I was shocked at the news,” said Tucker. “She has been a huge force in our city, the epitome of volunteerism and service to the community.”
“We will see how things go,” added O’Brien. “Hopefully, it will be a smooth process.”