Before he sheds title, Santa Cruz mayor to hand out keys to city to NFL rookie, county clerk, others

Downtown Santa Cruz
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

To whom will Justin Cummings hand a “key to the city”? It’s a group that includes NFL rookie Ashtyn Davis, pro skateboarder Raven Tershy, those who make up the molecular lab at UCSC and one of the area’s most well-known community activists.

Justin Cummings’ final day as Santa Cruz mayor is Tuesday. But he’s not handing over that largely figurative title before doling out some very real 2020 kudos.

It’s his personal list of those who have inspired — a group of people that includes athletes, scientists, community activists and public servants.

“I just thought ‘Why not honor the achievements of folks in our community who have been doing good work, and accomplishing really big things, during COVID?’” Cummings said. “Sometimes people go unrecognized.”

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The list of those to receive a “Key to the City” includes:

  • Gail Pellerin, the Santa Cruz County Clerk who announced her retirement days after the November election.
  • The Santa Cruz Warriors, who have had an active year of community service despite seeing their G League season cut short.
  • Pro skateboarder Raven Tershy, who continues to build an impressive resume in the larger action sports world, but isn’t a household name to many in his hometown.
  • The Molecular Diagnostic Lab at UC Santa Cruz, which stepped up to lessen the county’s burden with COVID-19 testing.

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  • Former Santa Cruz High and Cal football/track star Ashtyn Davis, who is having an impressive rookie NFL season at cornerback for the New York Jets.
  • Curtis Reliford, the well-known and well-traveled community activist who drives his truck — the Santa Cruz Peace Train — around the county, looking for opportunities to deliver food, clothes and building materials to those in need.
Ashtyn Davis
(Via New York Jets)

Cummings expects all individual recipients and some representatives from UCSC and the Warriors to be present for the virtual ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, which will be part of his final council meeting as mayor.

The ceremony will precede new City Council members being sworn in, and a new mayor and vice-mayor being voted upon.

Justin Cummings
(Via Justin Cummings)

Cummings has another two years on the council, but his one-year mayoral stint couldn’t have coincided with a more tumultuous moment.

“Twenty-twenty,” he sighed.

But Cummings had good things to say about all those he selected as the city’s 2020 beacons.

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  • Molecular Diagnostic: “I don’t think many people are aware of what they did for the county by testing everyone at UCSC. That took a huge burden off our health system.”
  • Reliford: “Curtis is someone who has been in our community a long time and constantly spreading love and why we should try to see each other as human beings. In this difficult time, I think that’s important.”
  • Tershy and Davis: “As a town that really embraces skating, and me as someone who grew up skating, Raven is someone that really inspires. As for Ashtyn, getting to the NFL is a huge achievement and he’s doing great. We want him to know the town is behind him and celebrating him.”
  • Pellerin: “With all the turmoil around the elections, here in Santa Cruz we were able to feel safe about the process.”
  • The Warriors: “We want to show our gratitude for what they’ve brought to the community. It’s a place where people can put away their differences and enjoy basketball. People really love it.”

HOW TO WATCH

Tuesday's 'Keys To The City' Ceremony

Due to COVID-19, all city council meetings are held via Zoom. Here are the options for watching Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m.: