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New Council Members Sworn Into Service
The Riverbank City Council meeting saw a changing of the guard on Dec. 13 as Sandra Benitez and Dave White left office - they had served 16 and 19 years respectively - and newly elected members Dotty Nygard and Richard O'Brien took their places on the dais.

"It's time for the young people, with young ideas, to take over and it's time for me to step down," said Benitez in making her farewell comments as a councilmember. "I love this city, the people in it and the city staff who work so hard to take care of it. Things will get better (economically) I am sure. I have learned so much in this job. I've even learned from the people who did not support me and I thank them for that."

Presented with her official photograph from the City Hall office wall, Benitez commented, "It's been hanging in there long enough" and then unwrapped a gift from the city that turned out to be a music box playing "You Light Up My Life." The inside inscription that Councilmember Jesse James White insisted on hearing read was "Some people make the world special just by being in it."

The people crowded into the city's Community Center rose to their feet to applaud Benitez as she left the dais for the last time.

White is still recuperating from a serious illness and was not present in person, but he also drew a round of applause for his service to the city.

"After coming from Tracy, it was two years ago that I discussed with my husband running for council here," said Nygard after taking the oath of office from City Clerk Linda Abid-Cummings. "I must thank my friend Virginia Madueno (the mayor) who gave me so much help and is so committed to the community. I'm very happy to be in this position. I will represent you and work hard at it."

"I'm truly honored to be here and humbled. The faith and confidence you place in me is humbling," said O'Brien in accepting his council seat. "I hope to get a lot accomplished in an expeditious manner, starting tonight."