By Nicole Shine/Garden Grove Journal
With the end of Garden Grove Mayor Bill Dalton’s term this month, so ends 40 years of service.
Or does it?
“It’s time to give someone else a chance,” Dalton said of his decision not to run for City Council last month. Although city rules barred him from another run for mayor, he was eligible to make a bid for a council seat.
“But I’m not going to hide under a rock,” he said, adding he plans to raise funds for local organizations—as soon as he and his wife get back from vacation in Hawaii.
Dalton leaves a city that resoundingly elected him mayor in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. He served on the city council between 1998 and 2004.
“I’ve always considered myself a public servant,” Dalton said.
Born in San Francisco, he moved to Garden Grove in 1967. He joined the police force as a volunteer in 1972 and was hired the following year.
For the next 26 years, Dalton worked in SWAT and as a patrol officer, where he earned a Medal of Valor, one of only seven issued in the department’s 56 years. He stopped an armed robbery without deadly force—a rarity, said Police Chief Kevin Raney.
Dalton’s years on the force shaped his vision for the city, in particular his desire to clean up Harbor Boulevard, an area he called crime-ridden and “sleazy” in a city promotional video.
He ushered in an era that saw crime-magnets like The Fire Station Motel and The Pitcairn razed, replaced by 11 hotels that generate an estimated $12 million annually. The projects have brought more than 3,500 jobs and affordable housing to the city, according to officials.
Dalton, who credits his fellow council members for the area’s make-over, is proud of what they’ve accomplished.
“Harbor and its proximity to Disneyland was something we really needed to capitalize on,” Dalton said.
Even so, he understands that not everyone has shared his vision.
“We want a small town atmosphere, but yet we want the benefits of being a big town,” he said. “That’s a tightrope.”
Was it too much development?
Josh McIntosh, a fourth generation resident, used to live across the street from The Fire Station Motel. While he has seen crime drop there, he wondered if the sheer number of hotels was a mistake.
“Will they be successful?” McIntosh questioned. “We don’t know what the hotels will bring.”
Still, Dalton—who has five children, 14 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren—wasn’t all about big developments. He also gave the nod to civic projects like the Buena Clinton Youth & Family Resource Center, the Splash Pad and skate and dog parks.
His term now over, Dalton won’t completely abandon the city he helped to shape. He’ll stay on as the head of an oversight board, a volunteer post.
“Just as Citizen Dalton,” he said.