Longtime town councilwoman Karen Stepper was named mayor of Danville for the fourth time on Tuesday, after her fellow council members unanimously selected her to hold the position for the coming year.
Stepper was selected during the 38th Annual Mayor’s Installation and Community Service Awards held at the Village Theatre and Art Gallery in downtown Danville. Danville mayors are chosen from among the five town council members, as opposed to being elected directly by the voters.
“She has had the pulse on the community for so many years now, she is active with our youth, our seniors, our veterans, and she is also very involved not just locally but regionally,” said councilwoman Renee Morgan, who officially nominated Stepper for the position.
In her inauguration speech, Mayor Stepper highlighted some of the issues she intends to tackle in the coming year, and gave a call to action for residents to get involved in their community.
“This year has had many challenging goals and the ones coming up will all involve your generosity, your education on the issues and your ability to bring others into our circle of caring for Danville. You are the catalyst that makes me proud to serve as mayor,” Stepper told the congregation. “I hope you will include some of my priorities in your priorities and resolutions for 2020.”
Stepper said her priorities for the coming year include ensuring that first responders feel appreciated in Danville, growing neighborhood emergency response teams, expanding the role of the town’s Arts District and park offerings and - perhaps chief of all - advocating for local control to the state and national government.
“To beat our drums in the halls of Sacramento to Washington D.C. to demonstrate that housing, transportation and jobs can best be improved with local decision-making and local leadership,” she said.
Stepper also said providing homeless services will also be a top priority of hers going into the new year saying: “Homelessness is mostly served outside our borders. However, with the homeless people that are... in our communities, we may not be able to build a shelter but we can be supportive of these people.”
A 16-year member of the Danville Town Council, Stepper has previously served as mayor in 2006, 2011 and 2016.
During her time as a civil servant, Stepper has also served the "Emergency Preparedness" Citizen's Corp Council, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, TRAFFIX Congestion Relief Agency, the Central Contra Costa County RecycleSmart, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, California League of Cities - Revenue and Taxation, and has served as chair of the Contra Costa Mayors' Conference, to name a few.
Most recently, throughout 2019 Stepper served as vice mayor under the tenure of councilman Robert Storer, who shared some words Tuesday night about his time as mayor.
“I still feel the same way as I did almost 18 years ago… One day it will become necessary to hand (the) torch to a younger generation that will look back on our work and hopefully say it was meaningful, they had purpose and direction, they made a difference, they made good decisions,” he said to a standing ovation.
The Town Council also unanimously selected Lisa Blackwell to serve as Vice Mayor for 2020, her first appointment to the council’s higher office.
“It is my honor to nominate one of our newer council members, but somebody who has been volunteering in the community for many many years,” councilman Newell Arnerich said. “Her activity in schools has been extraordinary.”
Traditionally council members who serve as vice mayor will be selected to serve as mayor the following year, although that is not strictly town policy.
The Mayor’s Installation and awards ceremony will be broadcast on AT&T U-verse channel 99 and Comcast channel 26, on Dec. 12 and 19 at 7 p.m., Dec. 14 and 21 at 11 a.m. and Dec. 16 and 23 at 1 p.m.