From 1983 to 1995, Robert Trigg was a household name in Elk Grove, as he led the school district through an era of dramatic growth. He gained a reputation for getting all stakeholders to work together while the district built 14 new schools and more than doubled enrollment in his dozen years as superintendent.
Now, Trigg has been called out of retirement to be the newest City Council member, a job for which he did not apply. Faced with a vacancy on the council created when Gary Davis was elected mayor, the council couldn't agree on naming a new colleague from a field of six applicants to fill the seat for the two-year remainder of the term.
With the appointment headed for a special election that would cost the city an estimated $550,000, Trigg's name was floated by a local newspaper columnist, and then the 78-year-old retiree was approached by council members. He ultimately accepted the invitation.
Council members voted 3-1 to appoint Trigg, with Jim Cooper dissenting.
Trigg, a 29-year Elk Grove area resident, was sworn in last week for the term ending in December 2014.
Since retiring from Elk Grove Unified School District, Trigg served on the California State Board of Education and has worked for a firm that helps school boards recruit superintendents.
How did your name come up as a possible appointee?
I don't have a clue. I got a call from a citizen telling me there was a vacancy. I heard about the newspaper column. I got a call from (Councilman) Pat Hume saying they were having problems filling the position. Then I got a call from the mayor right after the council meeting saying 'You have been appointed. Are you willing to take the position?' I didn't attend the meeting. I didn't actively go after the position. But when I heard it would cost $550,000 to have a special election, I felt like the city was kind of in a bind. I believe had I not accepted, we would have had a special election.
Had you ever considered running for council?
I've never considered it in the past, and never ran, nor do I ever consider running in the future.
What do you see as the major issues facing the city?
I've doing lots of listening, and trying to refresh myself with regard to the issues. I'm very interested in learning and listening to staff. I've had some very educational meetings with members of city staff. Each person brings a different perspective, and I hope after a couple meetings I will be better prepared to talk about goals and issues.
How will your background serve you in this position?
First, I've watched the community grow, and been a part of that growth, at least the school component of that. I was responsible for seeing we had appropriate schools for the rapid growth. I was here when there was no Laguna, and now I live there. My wife and I love this community. I see the vacant stores, but I also see the wonderful parks. I've worked on many boards over the years, so I bring that experience. And I'm interested in continued cooperation between various governmental entities.
How does this affect your retirement plans?
Dramatically. My attempts at retirement have been unsuccessful. It certainly went through my mind that this would be a big job. I'm not as limber as some of my fellow council members, but I hope to do a good job.