Barbara Sally to fulfill late husband’s term on Exeter council
Barbara Sally, wife of late city councilman Dale Sally, is sworn in to fulfill Dale’s term ending in 2020
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
EXETER – As of last Tuesday, Aug. 28 the Exeter City Council has a different Sally sitting in a familiar seat. The City of Exeter left the late Dale Sally Jr.’s seat open for almost eight weeks after he passed in early July, looking for someone willing to fill his shoes until 2020. Fortunately they found someone up to the challenge, Dale’s wife Barbara.
“I talked it over with my kids and they all agreed that I’d be a good replacement,” Barbara said. “I’ve been in Exeter for 51 and half years…and everyone seemed to think that we needed someone who loved Exeter as much as Dale and that was me.”
Before Barbara was sworn in and welcomed by her fellow city council members she received a public vote of confidence by current Visalia city manager and former Exeter city manager, Randy Groom. Groom was fond of Dale during their years together and impressed by his professionalism and inquisitive mind. He said that Exeter made the right choice.
“You don’t need my opinion or my endorsement but I think [appointing Barbara Sally] is a great move and Dale would be very happy,” Groom said during public comment.
While she’s sitting in a new seat during council meetings, she is no stranger to the way Exeter works. When Dale was recovering from the stroke he suffered in March of 2017, Barbara became a regular attendant of the Exeter City Council meetings. She learned a lot between March and August when Dale was rehabbing.
“I just sort of kept up with a few of the items that were presented at that time…I was absorbing the information and taking it back,” Barbara said.
And her efforts while Dale was in the hospital and even after did not go unnoticed by Exeter mayor Teresa Boyce and Councilman Jeremy Petty.
“I am proud to have someone who is so dedicated to Exeter. For the last year or more she brought Dale to all of the council meetings and helped him with his notes and agendas. She has sat in on many meetings and is already knowledgeable about the issues we’ve been working on…I believe Dale would be proud of Barbara for taking his seat on the Council,” Boyce said.
“Having Barbara on the Council is perfect. We couldn’t have a more qualified dedicated person to fill Dale’s spot,” Petty said.
Now that Barbara has taken her oath she is ready to learn even more. One of the most important topics of the area, and large swaths of California, is the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Water was a large part of Dale’s life before he became a councilman as much of his career dealt with it. And now with SGMA mandating cities be a part of a sustainability effort in over drafted sub basins or risk the state water board handing down onerous regulations, Barbara wants to continue on the path Exeter had started under Dale.
“I want to learn more about [Groundwater Sustainability Agencies]…I knew how they were forming and I’d like to continue on that path,” Barbara said. “It is important for everyone. You don’t want the government to take over.”
Barbara said she wants to continue to expand her knowledge on plenty of other City topics as well. A point of interest for her is the Tulare County Association of Government (TCAG) who plays a large part in the administration of Measure R funds, the County’s self imposed half percent sales tax for road improvements. And she wants to learn more about the public works department, which her late husband was also keen on.
“Dale was really into the working of the city. When a pump would go down he would have me drive by and when a lawn was unkempt he wanted to know about that,” Barbara laughed.
Following Dale on the dais would be a daunting task for anyone. He had a consummate record of local service that earned him the 2013 Heritage Award, and the adoration of hundreds as they paid their respects at his funeral in July. Barbara is still impressed by the out pouring of support and struck by the scene of fire trucks who hung the American flag on D Street that day.
Dale made himself a fixture in the community of Exeter for 40 years and had been the touchstone for traditional Exeter events. He played pivotal roles in the creation of Brewfest, the Lions Club’s Fourth of July celebration, downtown New Year’s Eve celebrations and served on the Boy Scouts Board of Directors at the time they raised the funds to build the Miller-Dofflemeyer building on North E Street to replace the old Scout Shack.
While nobody can replace Dale’s presence on the council, Barbara is likely the only one who can carry on his legacy.
“When I first talked to Adam and Shonna I said I don’t have nearly the knowledge and probably the wisdom that Dale had. But I just feel that the direction we were going in is right, I’m good with this,” Barbara said.