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I’m writing this month’s article from Varazze, Italy, Alameda’s picturesque sister city on northern Italy’s Mediterranean coast. I’m here with 16 members and affiliates of Alameda’s Sister City Association. Many of them are from the Ratto, Perata, and Ferro families, whose grandparents and great-grandparents came to America from Varazze at the turn of the last century, in search of a better life. They followed others from their region to Bay Farm Island in Alameda where they worked as farmers or for the local scavenger company, assisted one another, sent money back to their families in Italy, married, raised families, educated their children, started businesses, bought homes, helped build a church (St. Philip Neri), and more. And they never forgot their roots.

Alameda Post - Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
Mayor Ashcraft speaks at the Alameda Housing Authority ceremony for Rica Vista apartments on March 8, 2023. Photo Adam Gillitt.

Our visit formally commemorated the establishment of the sister city relationship between our two cities, and included participation in the festive and moving two-day long celebration of Varazze’s patron saint, Santa Caterina of Siena.

We have enjoyed the warm hospitality of Varazze’s residents and public officials, the beauty of this region, and the delicious food. I have had the pleasure of spending time with Varazze’s  Mayor Luigi Pierfederici who turns 40 this year, and has already served 20 years in elected office. Through an interpreter, I asked Mayor Luigi and his council colleagues what motivated them to run for office. Their replies contained a common thread: “I wanted to get things done for my city.” That included revitalizing the town square and building a new fire station, and both projects are currently underway.



My Italian counterparts’ responses reminded me of an article written by Natalie Arroyo, an inspiring young Humboldt County Supervisor I recently met. Like Mayor Luigi, Natalie also turns 40 this year. She was elected to the Eureka City Council at the age of 30, becoming the youngest woman and first Latina to serve on that City Council, and is the first Latina County Supervisor in Humboldt County. Natalie says, “I didn’t set out to be first in anything; I just wanted our public decisions to include a mix of perspectives… because we expect our boards, councils, commissions, and other decision-making bodies to reflect the true face of our communities and represent our ever-changing demographics. That’s what representative government is.”

I agree with Natalie and want to encourage Alameda residents to consider serving on a City board or commission. I also want to thank all those who have recently submitted applications or perhaps been interviewed to fill previous openings. I read every application and am always impressed by the backgrounds and qualifications of our residents and your eagerness to serve our community. We have upcoming openings on the following boards and commissions.

Alameda Post - a young child pushing the spinning rock, the large metal Beken scultpure, and the Afore Alameda metal sculptures in the shape of multiple X's
The Public Art Commission is beautifying Alameda with grants for physical art. Love Elementary student McKenna Noonan, age 7, was one of the first to play with Zachary Coffin’s Rockspinners when they were installed at Jean Sweeney Open Space Park (left). Beken, by DeWitt Godfrey, is a 32-foot corten steel sculpture located at the Alameda Point Waterfront Park (top right). Alameda Afore, by Rodrigo Nava, anchors the intersection of West Atlantic Avenue and Main Street (bottom right). Photos Adam Gillitt.

The Civil Service Board (CSB) ensures that the City complies with the Civil Service Ordinance, which requires that appointments are based on merit and qualification. The CSB established the Civil Service Rules governing recruitment, classification, performance evaluation, leaves of absence, and disciplinary appeals. Over next two years, the CSB will oversee updates to the City’s 200+ job classification specifications, including compliance with the City’s new ADA plan.

The Historical Advisory Board (HAB) preserves and protects Alameda’s historical resources by reviewing and providing input on development applications that could impact these resources. Recently, the HAB helped shape the City’s Objective Design Review Standards to facilitate housing construction while ensuring that new development preserves nearby historic resources. This year, the HAB expects to weigh in on balancing development progress at Alameda Point with protecting significant historic elements in this area. Please note that you must be a Registered Architect to apply for this position.

The primary goal of the Housing Authority of the City of Alameda is to provide quality, affordable, and safe housing for low-income families, households, seniors, and veterans in the City of Alameda. The Housing Authority’s governing body is the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (HABOC) which includes two tenant members. Upcoming topics the HABOC will address include new housing construction at the North Housing site, creating incentives to encourage more landlords to offer Section 8 leases, and drafting a new Strategic Plan.

The Public Art Commission (PAC) helps enrich quality of life in Alameda through public art. The PAC developed the Public Art Master Plan that was adopted by the City Council and supports numerous cultural arts events and programs through grant awards, in collaboration with City staff and the City’s public art consultant. Over the next year, the PAC will award Cultural Arts and Arts Programming grants, design and issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for physical art, and evaluate onsite public art proposals.

To submit an online application for any of these boards and commissions visit the City of Alameda website. For more information, email the City Clerk’s office at [email protected]  or call 510-747-4800.

Celebrate your heritage! Share your time and talent with your city! Be Alameda Strong!

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is the Mayor of the City of Alameda. Reach her at [email protected].


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