Waterford mayor wants to serve from D.C., council doesn't want him to

William Broderick-Villa, Waterford mayor and teacher at Waterford High School, is heading to law school at Georgetown University. Ted Benson/The Modesto Bee
William Broderick-Villa, Waterford mayor and teacher at Waterford High School, is heading to law school at Georgetown University. Ted Benson/The Modesto Bee Modesto Bee

Waterford Mayor William Broderick-Villa is moving on to Georgetown law school in Washington, D.C., in August, three months before his first term as mayor would end.

Not that he wants it to end. Before breaking the news at Thursday night's City Council meeting, he said it was his fondest wish to complete his term. He said he would keep his house and his legal residence in Waterford.

Broderick (the mayor often goes by his father's last name) said California law allows an office-holder to fulfill his duties by teleconferencing.

Deputy City Attorney Art Godwin said Broderick was correct, but that he would need the council's approval. That doesn't appear to be a possibility.

Broderick's history with the council has seen sharp divisions on growth and public works, with the mayor ending up on the short side of many votes. While Broderick would press his issues in lengthy letters to the editor of local papers, he often used a sarcastic and pointed wit on opponents in council chambers.

Broderick said his biggest regret was that he could not convince fellow council members to make the Grupe housing development deliver a community pool as part of its plan.

Council members wished Broderick well and said getting accepted to Georgetown was quite an achievement. Councilman Jim Weaver said the city and council would be in good hands with Vice Mayor Ken Krause.

Councilman Charlie Goeken said he plans to run for mayor, but that he made that decision before Broderick made his announcement.

"I didn't see this coming," he said. "He appeared to love his job (as a high school teacher) and his work as mayor."

Weaver and Councilman Jose Aldoca dismissed any notion of an absentee mayor joining sessions by teleconference. "That's not feasible," said Weaver. Aldoca nodded in agreement.

One other thing that won't happen is an appointment of someone to succeed Broderick. California law prohibits appointees from outnumbering elected officials on city councils and school boards. Waterford already has two appointees, Krause and Aldoca.

The city could go the three months with just four members or hold a special election for someone to serve the remainder of Broderick's term. Because the estimated cost of a special election is $20,000 to $30,000, the latter is unlikely.

Broderick became mayor two years ago, when he defeated four-time incumbent Charles Turner. Broderick was 26. He was 24 when he was elected to the council.

"When I first sought office," Broderick said, "I was doing it so people had a choice," adding that he believed choice is a critical part of democracy.

The mayor said he was proud he got the potholes on North Western Avenue fixed, a campaign pledge.

"When I was a kid, I knew not to go biking there. I'd like to get Covey (Street) fixed, too, but it's taking a long time."

Coincidentally, two mothers complained Thursday night about the increased traffic and speeding cars on North Western Avenue.

Broderick said he believed he has been misunderstood by the rest of the council, but he was proud of their work together. He said what he will miss the most in Waterford is his classroom and the students. He teaches history and mathematics at Waterford High and was instrumental in leading the school's academic decathlon team to top finishes in several competitions.

Principal Don Davis hired Broderick when he was 20 years old and fresh out of the University of Southern California.

Davis credited Broderick with being one of the building blocks that has brought the high school state and national recognition. "Whatever William sets his mind to, he will accomplish. He will be excellent."

Davis saw a brighter and bigger stage in Broderick's future. "I see him involved in public policy, maybe on a national level."

Staff writer Roger W. Hoskins may be reached at rhoskins@modbee.com or 578-2311.