Christine Wozniak announced her resignation from the Belmont City Council late Monday night citing her need to focus on family and personal responsibilities — eliciting shock and disappointment from her peers.
“I am greatly honored to have served the people of Belmont for the last six years on the City Council and for several years before that on the Planning Commission. Over these years I have enjoyed the opportunity to represent the best interests of our city, our residents and our region,” Wozniak wrote in an email. “I regret that I have an increasing number of family and personal responsibilities that must take priority over my council role.”
The council will now begin to decide to either hold an election for a new councilmember or appoint a replacement, Mayor Warren Lieberman said.
“It was certainly very disappointing and we wish her the very best of luck with what she needs to do. I know she’s taken her responsibility as a councilmember very seriously,” Lieberman said.
Wozniak addressed her email to City Manager Greg Scoles who was surprised and also disappointed by her leaving.
“I’ve enjoyed working with her. She was on the council when I was appointed as city manager and she’s been very helpful to me personally. She’s got a good perspective; she’s been a real proponent of green initiatives,” Scoles said.
Wozniak had an active role in the city’s ban of plastic bags and spoke out against the impact of high-speed rail and a proposed 1,436-acre development at the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City, said former councilman Dave Warden, now a member of the Mid-Peninsula Water District Board.
As one of Belmont’s strongest environmental and neighborhood activists, the city may be hard-pressed to find a comparable replacement, Warden said.
“I’m obviously very upset and disappointed and she has extremely deep roots in Belmont. She’s been involved in Belmont for many many years, she’s the only woman on the council, she’s a very strong neighborhood advocate and I think it’s a tremendous loss to the city,” Warden said.
Wozniak took her role seriously so this was probably not something she took lightly, Councilman David Braunstein said. He hopes she knew her fellow councilmembers would have stepped up and covered for some of her public council duties if she needed more help.
“I don’t know what’s going on and I won’t pry, but I will reach out to her,” Braunstein said. “I hope that everything is OK for her and her family and obviously this is something she felt she had to do.”
With both Coralin Feierbach and Wozniak off the council, Warden says he’s concerned about a potential imbalance on the council.
“I think you need a mix of people, I just do. I think she represented a very good segment of the city,” Warden said. “I don’t know that other people on the council have as deep roots as she does and I don’t know that they have as serious concerns about neighborhood and individuals and the character of the community. Maybe they do and I just don’t know that. But I know Christine did.”
In their tenure, none of these city officials had seen someone retire mid-term. But before the council can determine how to replace Wozniak, the discussion will have to be agendized, Scoles said.
“From my perspective,” Scoles said, “her perspective is going to be missed.”
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