Sixteen years of service on the Ceres Planning Commission for Laurie Smith ended last week when she presided at her last meeting.
Smith serves to the end of December but the absence of any meetings the Nov. 21 meeting was her last.
It was also the last meeting for Daniel Martinez, who served over a year. He will step down next month to assume the District 4 Ceres City Council seat.
“It’s been a great honor and a privilege to serve this community and serve with my fellow commissioners both current and those in the past,” said Smith, who was appointed by then Mayor Anthony Cannella.
Smith’s retirement comes at a time when Senior Planner James Michaels also is departing the city staff.
“We’re happy for him but sad that we’re losing him,” said Christopher Hoem, director of Community Development for the city of Ceres. “We’re also sad that we’re losing Chairperson Smith. You’ve been a beacon of professionalism, wisdom and just good decorum and I think that it’s tough losing you but we understand. We really appreciate your service.”
Hoem promised more commercial and industrial projects arising next year, saying, “the city’s growing.”
“This is a good place,” Hoem noted of Ceres. “Part of it’s because we have a great Planning Commission that has made good decisions over the years. You’ve guided us to where we are today and we wouldn’t be the city we are without you.”
Ann Montgomery, the administrative secretary to the department, told Smith that it has been a “real honor” working with her for the past 11 years since she has been with the city.
“You’ve just been a joy to work with,” Montgomery told Smith, “and we’ve accomplished a lot of projects in that time … the General Plan Update, the Mitchell Ranch center, there’s a lot of great things.”
Smith had some kind words for Montgomery, too, calling her “so professional and caring.”
“I’ve just enjoyed it so much. I can’t believe how quick 16 years went and I’m excited about the future of Ceres. Ceres is a great place to live and I know that we have a lot of great things in our future and people taking on roles of leadership in the community will continue moving us forward.”
Smith unsuccessfully ran for the special election to fill the open District 1 Ceres City Council seat last year. James Casey won that race.
The Ceres City Council will be appointing replacements for Smith and Martinez at the Monday, Dec. 12 council meeting. Applicants for a slot are David Carreon, Anthony Flores, Ruldip “R.J.” Jammu, Cerina Otero, Kelly Cerny, Mohinder Kanda, Vincent Truff, Juan Vazquez, Josh Steeley and Alvaro Franco.
A special council interview panel comprised of Mayor Javier Lopez and Vice Mayor Bret Silveira spoke to the applicants before Monday’s City Council meeting to get a feel for the applicants and their qualifications.