BRENTWOOD -- During the recent election, Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor fielded many questions from residents, but the one asked most often was "what's next?"
Before being elected to his third term as mayor by an overwhelming majority, Taylor said he focused on transportation, downtown, public safety, fiscal responsibility and making sure that people outside of East County know about the attributes of raising a family and living in Brentwood.
"Brentwood is recognized on a regional basis," he said recently. "I needed to put Brentwood on the map."
Taylor said his first terms were hectic and he hopes this term will be about accomplishing things that will retain Brentwood's hometown feeling in addition to the priorities of his earlier years in office.
"Now it gives me an opportunity to look into the future in Brentwood," Taylor said.
First, Taylor wants to build a new gazebo in City Park to replace the former community landmark there that he said was being "held together by termites and paint" and removed during the park's revamp. He would like to raise donations and involve the Brentwood Arts Commission in selecting a proper location within the park. "It will be a replica of that part of Brentwood's history," Taylor noted.
Taylor is also vowing to make City Park a true community park on the weekends by bringing in more musical entertainment and family-oriented activities. Calling it "the people's park," he promised to make the park a more active part of the city and a focal point for downtown.
"Brentwood is very intuitive and very progressive," Taylor said.
Despite his work to improve the city, the mayor is not without his critics. Brentwood resident Stephen Smith said that Taylor is a controversial figure and it is easy to underestimate him, but he has gained broad appeal among many different subsets of the community for knowing what his strengths are.
"His big strength is talking to people and really promoting Brentwood," Smith noted. "Nobody would accuse him of being a details person. He relies on other people like city staff for that. He does what he does best, which is putting himself out there."
During the election, Taylor was criticized for not progressing Brentwood's image or providing responsible leadership.
"Brentwood is a wonderful place to live," former Brentwood councilwoman Annette Beckstrand said. "Because Brentwood had such progressive leadership during its growth spurt and so much money was put into schools, parks, roads, reserves and other amenities for our city, it is completely understandable that so many voters blindly put their trust in the candidate labeled 'incumbent.'
"Now it falls to the elected mayor to rise above himself and lead the city with strength and integrity on a level above that which he has demonstrated in the past. I hope he will pull in every possible resource available to him to succeed, for those who trusted him."
Another project that is important to Taylor is selling bricks engraved with the names of residents and families for placement in front of the upcoming library expansion on Oak Street.
"It draws attention to downtown and the library," he said.
The highly visible and accessible mayor also plans to host quarterly, informal meetings at City Park, where residents can bring up questions or concerns.
"It is a lot to do, but four years is a long time," he said.
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.