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Hughson welcomes 3 to council
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After eight months of chaos in Hughson, a sense of victory was evident during Monday's City Council meeting as three new council members were sworn into office.

"I am ready to get down to city business," said Jill Silva, new council member who took the place of resigned council member Ben Manley.

Silva joined new council members George Carr, who replaced Thom Crowder, and Jeramy Young, who replaced Doug Humphreys, as they all asked to take their oaths of office together making Monday their very first council meeting.

Voters in Hughson issued a sharp rebuke of councilmen Thom Crowder, Doug Humphreys and Ben Manley Aug. 23, ousting all three in a special recall election. Close to 90 percent of Tuesday's turnout agreed that all three members should go. Crowder and Humphreys refused to step down but Manley resigned 22 days before the election but after the ballots were printed.

Cheers, standing ovations and shouts of "hear, hear" were voiced by the over 30 community members as they celebrated the replacements of three council members who were recalled on Aug. 24 after the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury found them in violation of the Brown Act, the Hughson Municipal Code and the Fair Political Practices Regulations and Code in December 2009.

A moment was given to reflect on the circumstances which led to the need of a recall election.

"It was a sad day for the city of Hughson," said Mayor Ramon Bawanan. "We had to remove three council members for breaking the law."

Apart from the community's embarrassment from the actions of the three council members and a $23,000 cost to the city to recall Manley, Humphreys and Crowder, Bawanan experienced one of his proudest moments.

"There is no prouder mayor in the county, and for that matter, the United States, than I am today," he said.

Hughson voters elected Gerald Carr to replace Crowder after 86 percent of the voters said Crowder should be recalled and 14 percent said no. Carr received 651 votes, or 64 percent, over Miguel Osguera's 366 votes (36 percent).

Carr is a 52-year-old technical analyst for AT&T.

Young, 38, a Modesto Police sergeant, received 712 votes, or 69 percent. He far outdistanced Gary Houx who picked up 306 votes, or 30 percent. A total of 981 voters said Humphreys needed to go. The councilman found 141 supporters, who amounted to just 13 percent of the turnout.

Although he already resigned, Manley generated 994 recall voters (89 percent), as opposed to 121 who said he should stay. In his stead the voters chose Jill Silva (894 votes or 85 percent) over Billy Gonzalez (154 votes or 15 percent).

Silva is a 46-year-old assistant chief probation officer for Stanislaus County.

"I am excited for the city to move forward," said Silva.

Despite the long and difficult hurdle the city of Hughson has overcome with the recall election, two new hurdles still need to be jumped - the budget and the hiring of a new city manager.

The council will hold a budget study workshop at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7 to go over the 2010-2011 budget that was supposed to be passed in June.

Also, city manager final interviews are expected to be done either Sept. 6 or Sept. 20, depending on the availability of the last two candidates and the council.

As the small town of Hughson slowly starts to gain momentum on their new beginning, the chaos that ran the city for months at a time did have one positive outcome - a renewed sense of community involvement.

"This ignites a whole Renaissance of community involvement," said Hughson Council member Matt Beekman, trying to hold back tears of joy. "There was a time when the city wanted a pool and people would grab a shovel and dig a hole. We need to get back to that."