WHITTIER — Mayoral reorganizations are usually happy occasions, but it was somber here April 14 as Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Dutra moved up to the mayor’s seat, replacing Cathy Warner; and Joe Vinatieri was named mayor pro tem.
Vinatieri was absent because of the death of his wife, Sandy. Funeral services were held April 18.
Dutra noted that the ceremony was the last of its type.
Under the city’s redistricting plan, the next municipal election and reorganization will be held in November 2016.
At that time a mayor will be elected by voters citywide for two years and four council members, one from each district, will be elected for four-year terms.
The new city election plan is the result of a lawsuit claiming that at-large voting was unfair to minorities. Whittier residents voted June 3, 2014 to change the City Charter to comply with the court settlement reached last year.
Various public meetings have been held to explain the plan, the latest April 20.
The City Council last Sept. 9 approved a contract with David Ely of Compass Demographics to create the four voting districts. On Sept. 23, 2014, the City Council approved a contract with Arellano Associates to assist in soliciting public input on district boundaries.
Information on the new voting districts, complete with a map, is available on the city website, www.cityofwhittier.org.
Dutra, the new mayor, was elected to a four-year term on the City Council in April 2014. He had previously been appointed to the council in August 2012 to fill the remaining term of former Councilman Greg Nordbak.
Dutra and his wife, Mary, have three children: Sara, Megan and Eric. They have lived in Whittier since 1987. Dutra is the president of Allwest Development Company and holds licenses for general building contracting and general engineering.
He served on the Whittier Planning Commission for six years, from 2006 to 2012. Prior to his term on the Planning Commission, he served for six years on the Design Review Board.
He has chaired the Metro Light Rail Extension Project Washington Boulevard Coalition; sits on the Whittier YMCA Board of Directors; and has served on the St. Gregory Parish Board.
Vinatieri, an attorney, was re-elected in April 2008 and 2012 after having been elected to a two-year term in 2006. He was born and raised in Whittier, attended Whittier schools and is employed in Whittier as an attorney at Bewley, Lassleben and Miller.
He has three children: Sarah, Joe and Susie, who attended Whittier schools.
His community involvement includes stints on the Board of Directors of the Whittier Area Chamber of Commerce; the Whittier Union High School District Bond Oversight Committee; and the Board of the Whittier High School Alumni Association and Educational Foundation.
Vinagtieri was on the city’s Social Services Commission from 1984-1988 and was a volunteer counseling youth offenders at Fred C. Nelles School for Boys for 10 years. Joe is a member of Plymouth Congregational Church.