SANTA ROSA, Calif. (12/22/14)--Since immigrating to the United States from Nigeria in the 1980s, Amy Ahanotu has not only established himself as a U.S. citizen, he has distinguished himself as his city's figurative No. 1 citizen. Ahanotu, a branch manager at $2.3 billion-asset Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., recently took over as mayor of Rohnert Park, Calif.
Ahanotu was first elected to the City Council in 2010 and won re-election in November. Soon after, he was selected by his fellow council members to serve as mayor of Sonoma County's third-largest city for the upcoming year. As mayor he will set the City Council's agenda, run meetings and represent the city at public functions.
Ahanotu became involved in local politics about eight years ago when he thought his business acumen could help bridge the gap between local government and local businesses. Indeed, his credit union background has informed his political career, he told
"Part of Redwood CU's mission is to passionately serve the best interests of our members, employees and the communities," Ahanotu said. "This is my way of serving the community. Our service standards say we will be ambassadors. As mayor, I promote the credit union philosophy within the community."
Ahanotu said the leadership provided by Redwood CU President/CEO Brett Martinez within the community has provided him with a great example in promoting credit union ideals.
"Brett Martinez makes it easy to promote businesses as the good partners for the city and its citizens," Ahanotu said.
And Ahanotu is bringing Redwood CU's culture to city hall. For example, one area of focus has been customer service--and that it means more than saying please and thank you, Ahanotu said. "You cannot be a roadblock to providing projects and services," Ahanotu added. "Things are going to go wrong. Own it, solve the problem and move on. That is what works for us at Redwood CU."
But perhaps the most important credit union principle he has stressed in his political career is fiscal responsibility. Ahanotu is proud to be a member of a City Council that has achieved a balanced budget for the first time since 2008.
"It's taking the credit union philosophy of financial management to the public sector," Ahanotu said. "It's very simple. If you don't have the money you cannot spend it."