Local realtor and recent former olive grower David Hails appointed to Council, to be sworn in on June 25
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
EXETER —Exeter has landed on their fifth and final council member, at least until the November 2020 election.
Before their meeting last week the Exeter City Council rounded out the dais on a 3-1 decision to appoint local realtor Dave Hails to fill former councilmember Teresa Boyce’s seat. The Council did not lack options when they met before their council meeting last Tuesday. All four council members heard from Hails along with Jacob Johnson, who works with NSE Insurance, Nancy Munoz, who works with the Tulare County Office of Education and Paul Vargas who currently serves on the Tulare County grand jury.
All live in District A, the north-western portion of Exeter. Hails expressed his willingness to serve as the interim councilmember in the application he submitted to the City.
“Local government is a essential to our way of life here and preserving and enhancing it is my goal,” Hail’s letter stated.
He noted as well that he understands Exeter’s issues because of how involved he is in the community. In all, Hails is a property owner, substitute teacher for the Exeter school district since 2007, local realtor, serves on the Local Government Relations Committee and the local Candidate Recommendation Committee, a Boy Scout leader, has two children who attend Rocky Hill and Wilson, an olive farmer until this year and is fluent in Spanish.
During the interview Hails noted as well that he has political experience at the congressional, supervisorial and city council levels. In fact most of his professional experience comes from campaigning. Hails says that right after college he accepted an internship at the Washington Office for Latin America in DC because he was fluent in Spanish.
A large part of his days were spent on Capital Hill and before long he became a speech writer and legislative assistant for democrat Donald M. Paine until 1994. He went to work on Zoe Lofgren’s congressional campaign for the California 19th Congressional District encompassing San Jose. She eventually won, and still represents the district. Hails stayed in politics working for Bay Area candidates until he moved to Exeter in 2006 and started farming olives.
“Politics is no stranger to me. It’s so different to go from the guy behind the guy, to now being the guy,” Hails said.
President and broker of Century 21 noted Hails’ political experience as a reason to appoint him to the council, in his letter of recommendation.
“Given Dave’s extensive education, political experience (at the National level), involvement in the local community and success in the Real Estate industry, we feel that he would be a valuable addition to the Council,” Allen’s letter stated.
Good, bad and keep?
Mayor Mary Waterman-Philpot asked Hails to list the three things he thinks makes Exeter special, three things Exeter could improve on and three things to keep the same. To Hails’ credit he didn’t take the easy way out by reciting the city’s favorite three-word phrase, “small-town-charm.” Instead he noted Exeter’s unique culture in the area.
“Exeter is the gem of the county, there’s no other city like it,” Hails said. He went on to note that the parks and murals in downtown make it a place that people desire. But he was also honest about downtown’s problems, in particular the vacancies. While it is not the City’s scope to fill buildings, Hails said that he wants to ensure that undue competition does not come in and add to the problem.
“One thing we can’t change is bringing in the box stores because that would kill us,” Hails said
Boyce was forced to retire from the council because of her tragic fall in March that has left her practically immobile.
Boyce, spent 10 years as an Exeter council member and mayor and made a tough decision to take an early exit from her third term. Boyce shattered the bone just below her knee the day before her birthday on March 24. She said it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. While her husband was mowing the yard, she picked somethings up off the patio. When she went to walk away her foot got caught on a chair and ultimately caused her to trip.
“It was pretty bad. Kind of shattered,” Boyce said.
Boyce had surgery to fix it on April 1, and a steel plate was installed to keep the bone fragments from breaking off. Tougher still, she cannot put weight on the leg for at least a month. The lack of mobility forces her into a wheel chair for the foreseeable future and limit the scope of things she can do, like make it to council meetings.
“[After surgery] gave me a lot of time to lay there and think. I can’t get myself places. So being in the wheel chair I can get in the truck but I can’t get the wheel chair in the truck…I’ve already missed three meetings and I got to thinking it could be four months like this and I need to concentrate on healing,” Boyce said.
The former mayor added that it was best for her to take her time and concentrate on healing. But also said that she didn’t want to give anything less than her full attention and commitment to the Council.
Hails said he intends to run to retain the seat in 2020, and he’s looking forward to handling the problems Exeter is facing now.
“Moving forward we have a lot of challenges coming up including water issues and growth is always an issue. I’m excited to tackle the things facing us and I think I’m well suited for this given my background. It is an exciting time,” Hails.