South San Francisco, CA November 1, 2015 Submitted by Leslie Arroyo, City of South San Francisco
Record Number of Participants Graduate from South San Francisco’s Citizens’ Academy
9th annual Citizens’ Academy participants recognized during City Council meeting
Participants of the 9th annual Citizens’ Academy were recognized during last night’s City Council meeting for their dedication to an eleven-week program that gave them a behind-the-scenes look at City government. This year’s Academy had a record-breaking participation of 41 citizens.
“In my book, all of these participants received an A+ for their participation in our Citizens’ Academy,” said Mayor Richard Garbarino. “This is a big commitment for people and to meet them, see their enthusiasm for learning more about the inner workings of the City and Council, is really refreshing for me, the Council and City Staff.”
The Academy kicked off back in August and the participants met every Tuesday evening. They met with Department Heads and learned about the different functions of City departments and enjoyed tours of various City facilities including the City Hall, the Library, Parks, Recreation, Fire and Police facilities, the Water Quality Control plant and numerous Economic and Development projects. Session topics ranged from crime reduction and public infrastructure to disaster preparedness and technology innovation and cyber security. Participants also had the chance to meet and talk with Mayor Richard Garbarino, Vice Mayor Mark Addiego, and Councilmembers Karyl Matsumoto, Pradeep Gupta and Liza Normandy.
“Every week was extremely educational,” said Laura Fanella, a participant in this year’s Academy. “I could have spent weeks in each department learning more and was just so impressed with the passion our city staff have for their jobs.”
This Academy also inspired participants to get more involved with their community. “I learned about how to become more involved with the community,” said Olma O’Neill. “I truly believe that an engaged citizenry is a safe community. The Academy builds a strong bridge between the public and those charged with serving in the public’s best interest.”
O’Neill also said she was impressed with the City leadership. “The round table session with the City Council was truly humbling. Our Mayor and City Council seem so much more accessible now and it was great to see their passion, first-hand, and see what makes them tick.” She feels very thankful to have been a participant. “I feel encouraged to have a positive impact on my community and I’m confident I will.”
Academy organizer and Community Relations Liaison, Rosa Acosta, said this group was a fun and engaging group and really took these classes to heart, which is exactly why the City started this Academy. “The Academy was created to encourage and foster civic engagement by developing residents’ understanding of South San Francisco government by giving them a ‘peek behind the curtains’ of city departments,” said Acosta. “This group really was a fantastic group to work with.”
If you’re interested in finding out more information about the next Citizens’ Academy, please visit http://www.ssf.net/1631/
The following people participated in the 2015 Citizens’ Academy:
Jeannette Acosta, Gerardo Alarcon, Niceforo Alarcon, Ana Barrozo, Donna Barry, Betty Battaglia, Letty Beard, Rhonna Belland, Jackie Buckley, Kathleen Butler-Tom, Kristy Camacho, Steve Carey, Graham Chase, Amanda Cotla, Arnoldo Diaz, Angela Dulduloa, Angie Escalante, Juan Escalante, Anthony Estrada, Laura Fanella, David Flores, Sandra Flores, Susan Freeman, Joie Garrett, Anne Malik Grindy, Zhouhong Heacock, Tammy Benjamin Keller, Jeannette Kortys, Kalani Kotrys, Thomas Lien, Daina Lujan, RoseMarie Mallamo, Marilyn Mueda, Joseph Oates, Olma O’Neill, Christine Qiu, Rhonda Shaw, Kamala Silva Wolfe, Dave Silva, Kath Tejano, Alex Tzang, Diedra Walker, Marilyn Weger and Gale Yip.