Outgoing Mayor John Inks handed the gavel to Clark in a changing of the guard that went according to tradition at the Jan 7 meeting, with Clark moving from his post as vice mayor to mayor for 2014.
"It's not a big surprise who I'm going to be nominating," said council's most senior member Mike Kasperzak, who nominated Clark and gave him a ribbing in his remarks, noting that Clark "kept agreeing with most of the stuff I had to say" when the two campaigned for the council in 2012.
Despite reports to the contrary, it was revealed Tuesday night that Clark — age 30 — is not, in fact, the youngest person to be elected to the council or serve as mayor. There was no question, however, that he is the first openly gay council member to be elected. Clark said last week that it's a testament to the community that his sexual orientation has been a non-issue during his first year in office.
"I'm humbled and honored to serve as mayor," said the young business executive after he took the mayor's chair, thanking all those who helped him reach it. He thanked Inks for showing him the ropes, his campaign volunteers for their "sleepless nights" and family members who were watching online from an Illinois farm where they hopefully hadn't been "swept away in a polar vortex" and who instilled in him "pragmatism and humility." He noted some others too, including people "who know where you live and aren't afraid to knock on your door repeatedly."
As she sat next to him on the dais, council member Margaret Abe-Koga nominated McAlister to replace Clark as vice mayor, putting him in line to be mayor in 2015.
"His motto has been 'Residents first,'" Abe-Koga said of McAlister, who is known for taking the side of neighbors who oppose development in their neighborhoods. "The thing about our council is it's very diverse, we don't always agree but we can agree to disagree. His heart is in the right place. I've watched him work hard this year to understand the issues and ask the right questions."
"It's definitely an honor to follow in the footsteps of everyone up here," said McAlister, the last member of the current council to be vice mayor. "I have big footsteps to fill."
"Though their time on the council has been short they have had quite a bit of experience on the EPC," Abe-Koga said of Clark and McAlister, referring to the environmental planning commission that advises the council on land use changes in the city.
"Our city is the envy of many," Clark said. "We still, however, have many challenges ahead. We are recovering from one of the worst economic downturns and our jobs-housing imbalance has created tremendous pressures for growth."