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Union City: Dutra-Vernaci and Navarro sworn in, Green leaves

Carol Dutra-Vernaci was sworn in at a City Council meeting Tuesday night — exactly five weeks after she was elected Union City’s first female mayor.

She replaced Mark Green, who had served as Union City’s mayor since 1993. Dutra-Vernaci, 58, addressed the standing-room-only crowd that packed the council chambers, praising Green for his 19 years of service.

Dutra-Vernaci was elected after running unopposed. She previously served three terms on the City Council from 1997-2010, and has headed the city’s Economic Development Advisory Team and the Community Emergency Response Team.

Union City Councilman Jim Navarro, who captured his third term and nearly 67 percent of the vote while defeating challenger Jose Estrella last month, also was sworn in at the meeting.

Green, who frequently ran council meetings with a fun, wise-cracking tone, opened the meeting on familiar terms, making jokes about his shrinking time in office.

“This may be a good time to do a three-hour filibuster,” he said, moments before he was to leave the dais for the last time. The packed crowd, which was buzzing in anticipation well before the meeting, laughed loudly.

“Best of luck to Carol,” Green added. “Not that you need luck, but it’s always good to have.”

Dutra-Vernaci was sworn in by her husband, Mike Vernaci. She delivered a speech that praised Green for the solid state in which he’s leaving the city. Dutra-Vernaci, perhaps taking a page from Green, also was joking around and showing a feisty side. When she mentioned the local CSU campus, she emphasized that it was once called, “Cal State Hayward — let’s not have any of this ‘East Bay’ stuff.” (The university changed its name several years ago to Cal State East Bay.)

When she was done, Dutra-Vernaci called the other four council members — Navarro, Pat Gacoscos, Emily Duncan and Lorin Ellis — to join her onstage to formally introduce the new City Council to the community.

Green joined them, but only for a second, as he handed the mayor’s gavel to Dutra-Vernaci. With the changing of the guard complete, the crowd applauded the new mayor and council, and Green walked away, exiting stage left.

Chris DeBenedetti