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Laugero Named As Mayor, Haskin Bids Council Adieu
Walt Murken, left, and Jeff Laugero took the oath of office at Thursday nights Escalon City Council meeting, having won four-year terms on the panel in the November election. Marg Jackson/The Times

The ‘changing of the guard’ for the Escalon City Council saw recognition given to outgoing Mayor and 20-year council member Gary Haskin while incoming Mayor Jeff Laugero is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Tom Hagan.

In a special Thursday evening session, Dec. 15, members of the council publicly thanked Haskin for 20 years of service to the city, a career that started in April of 1996 when he first took his seat on the council dais.

In presenting Haskin with a plaque and the thanks of the council and entire city, Laugero outlined some of the major accomplishments for Haskin during his tenure. Tops among them were helping maintain the city’s slow growth policy, working to secure ‘quiet zones’ and wayside horns along the railroad tracks to reduce the constant blaring of train horns in the community, and service on both the Local Agency Formation Commission and the San Joaquin Council of Governments.

Taking his seat on the council on April 16, 1996, Haskin also served three terms as mayor, from 2000 to 2002, 2006-2008 and most recently, 2014 to 2016.

“I think the greatest legacy is continuing the slow growth ordinance that we have here in the city,” Laugero pointed out of Haskin’s time in office.

He also indicated the work Haskin did with former mayor and longtime councilman Dave Ennis to bring a new community/school pool to fruition.

“He has served us well,” Laugero said.

Special recognition was also presented through Congressman Jeff Denham’s office.

A humble Haskin, after a round of applause from all in attendance, said the 20 years was definitely time well spent, though he is looking forward to some Monday nights off.

“It really has been an honor and a privilege,” Haskin said. “It’s well worth it because of Escalon being the way it is.”

Councilman Ed Alves said the community was blessed to have Haskin’s service.

“Gary is a very, very dedicated individual who loves this community as much as I do,” Alves said. “He bleeds Escalon.”

Results of the November election were also accepted at the session and that led to the swearing in of incumbent Laugero, re-elected to another four-year term, and Walt Murken, returning to the dais after deciding to run for the panel this year.

After City Manager Tammy Alcantor administered the oath of office, Laugero – serving as Mayor Pro Tem under Haskin – was unanimously named to the position of Mayor and councilman Robert Swift was unanimously named as the Mayor Pro Tem.

Laugero, taking his new seat in the center of the dais, brought with him a gavel that had been used by his grandfather, Tom Hagan, when he served as the city’s mayor more than three decades ago. Hagan, who turned 100 this past year, was on hand in the council chambers along with several family members to witness the selection of Laugero as the new Escalon Mayor, keeping city service flowing along the generations.

Both Laugero and Murken thanked the voters for their support.

“I take this job seriously and I will do my best to give the care and diligence that Gary did during his time here,” Murken noted.

Laugero said he was proud to serve and appreciated the “vote of confidence” from the community.

“Family members, community members, there is so much support out there,” Laugero said in gazing out at the audience gathered for the Thursday night meeting. “You are what drive us to be here.”