Hundreds gathered Monday at the San Diego County Operations Center, with people standing in the meeting hall chambers and a line well out the door, to witness the swearing in of three county supervisors.
A new supervisor was sworn in for the first time since 1995, as former Solana Beach Deputy Mayor Dave Roberts took the oath of office as the newly elected District 3 representative. The other two supervisors to take the oath Monday, District 1 Supervisor Greg Cox and District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob, each handily won re-election in November.
Roberts won a tough battle against opponent Steve Danon, beating Danon by more than 4,000 votes in the general election after garnering fewer votes than Danon in the June primary.
“Today we turn the page to a new chapter in the 162-year history book of San Diego County,” Roberts said after receiving an introduction with cheers worthy of a celebration from the floor of Golden Hall. “I’m the first new supervisor in 18 years — the first member of that next generation of leaders on our county board of supervisors.
“I know I’m joining a great team of people, one that has turned this county around. And I believe I’m bringing a new activist perspective on some issues, and a shared vision on other issues.”
Championed by Pam Slater-Price, the former District 3 supervisor, Roberts is the first Democrat to serve on the legislative body since Leon Williams in the 1990s, although the seats are by law nonpartisan.
Nevertheless, Roberts used his speech as an opportunity to promote working together with colleagues he might differ with in ideology.
“We may disagree on occasion, but I pledge that I will not be disagreeable,” Roberts said to his colleagues.
Roberts wasted no time in outlining his priorities, describing areas in which he’s particularly excited to get to work, including a continued focus on fiscal discipline, protecting and sustaining the environment, promoting neighborhood planning that allows for growth without overdevelopment, a renewed focus on quality-of-life issues and a review of the county’s foster care and adoption programs. Roberts is the father of five adopted children.
Elected to a sixth term, Jacob’s tenure on the board of supervisors began in 1993, the same year in which Slater-Price began her service in District 3.
“I have to say, some people thought we would never be seeing any kind of change on the board of supervisors,” Jacob said. “But for the first time in two decades, it’s very exciting to me to welcome a new member of our board.”
Jacob's priorities for the next four years will focus heavily on public safety, with work focused on completing the consolidation of rural fire agencies and tackling issues like human trafficking and gang activity in her district. She also promoted a new initiative to work with the city of San Diego on addressing regional energy, and called for a lofty goal of putting solar panels on every rooftop in the county.
Acknowledging the tough campaigning that took place across the county in 2012, Cox said voters faced “much too much partisan bickering” in the last election cycle, noting that his goal is to represent his South County constituents equally in a nonpartisan manner.
“I pledge to you that the safety of our homes and families will continue to be my highest priority,” Cox said.
He took the moment to highlight one of the county’s latest struggles in its new responsibility over certain criminals previously incarcerated in state facilities, the trickle-down effect of the state’s inmate realignment schedule.
And with the recently retired Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard looking on from the crowd, sitting next to the new San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, Cox welcomed the new county CAO, Helen Robbins-Meyer, to the county’s top executive post. Robbins-Meyer is the first woman to serve in the position.
Both Jacob and Cox will have the opportunity to serve one more term, should they seek re-election to their seats in 2016. A limit of two four-year terms for county supervisors was imposed following the June 2010 election.
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In this final segment, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders turns the podium over to County Supervisor Ron Roberts, and also discusses local water and environmental issues.