PLEASANT HILL -- Fulfilling a promise to his family, John Hanecak on Monday stepped down after eight years on the City Council, and two new members took their seats.

At turns lighthearted and emotional during his remarks, Hanecak thanked the city staff for their hard work, dedication to customer service and willingness to accept benefits cuts during tough contract negotiations.

He said the most important decision during his tenure on the council, which included two stints as mayor, was hiring City Manager June Catalano, whom he credited with providing the strategy and insights to guide Pleasant Hill through a challenging time.

When he turned to thanking his family, the usually unruffled Hanecak -- a speech instructor at Diablo Valley College -- struggled to express himself. Through tears, Hanecak haltingly acknowledged his father, John Sr., said his wife, May, will always be his "first lady" and said he looks forward to celebrating as his young children, Dominic and Mia, grow up.

He concluded by saying, "Thank you, Pleasant Hill."

Outgoing City Clerk Marty McInturf guided her successor, Kim Lehmkuhl, through the oath of office. Hanecak praised McInturf for working tirelessly to produce accurate minutes of council meetings and for adopting the technology that allows residents to search videos of meetings.

Lehmkuhl swore in Treasurer Mark Celio and council members David Durant, Ken Carlson and Tim Flaherty. Councilman Michael Harris will serve as mayor next year and Councilman Jack Weir is now vice mayor.

The newly-elected council members thanked their friends and family members for their support during a grueling campaign, and the community for entrusting them to lead.

But the night belonged to Hanecak, whose commitment to Pleasant Hill was documented through a series of photos, including him volunteering at the annual Community Service Day and teaching Sunday school.

Durant praised Hanecak's public finance acumen as a member of the city's budget committee and called him a "tremendous advocate" for Pleasant Hill.

"No matter the circumstance, no matter the hour, this is a good man," said Durant, who has been on the council since 1999. "He serves with integrity, with honor and with decency."

Weir, who was elected in 2010, thanked Hanecak for helping him learn the ropes. Weir then told a story that seemed to sum up Hanecak's leadership style.

During a closed session meeting, when tempers flared between two unnamed council members, Weir said they turned to Hanecak to resolve the conflict. Hanecak's decree for "water balloons at twenty paces" instantly defused the tension, Weir said.

In addition to accolades from his council colleagues, Hanecak received a resolution from the state Legislature commending him for his years of public service from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier.

"It's been a delight to watch you as a member of this City Council," said DeSaulnier, who appointed Hanecak to the county Planning Commission in 1994.

"You're just a good person and I'm very proud of you as a friend."

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who served two years on the council with Hanecak, delivered a resolution from the Contra Costa County board of supervisors.

"We just wanted to honor your years of service and thank you so much," she said.

Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.