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Board of Supervisors enters new era

Three new county supervisors were sworn in Monday: Nora Vargas, Joel Anderson and Terra Lawson-Remer
(Provided)

Political makeup of board shifts as Nora Vargas, Joel Anderson and Terra Lawson-Remer are sworn in

County policies on climate change, public health and other issues may take a new direction after three new members of the Board of Supervisors were sworn in Monday, Jan. 4.

Nora Vargas, Terra Lawson-Remer and Joel Anderson joined the five-member board through remote, online swearing-in ceremonies, each vowing to work with the others on crucial issues facing the county.

The other two supervisors, Jim Desmond and Nathan Fletcher, were elected to the board two years ago.

With the addition of Lawson-Remer and Vargas, both Democrats, the composition of the board has made a dramatic political shift to the political left. Fletcher had been the only Democrat on the board until Monday, Jan. 4.

Vargas replaces Republican Greg Cox in District 1 and Lawson-Remer replaces Republican Kristin Gaspar in District 3. Anderson replaces fellow Republican Dianne Jacob in District 2.

Vargas thanked Cox and Anderson thanked Jacob for their past service to the board.

Vargas and Lawson-Remer each spoke about 10 minutes, saying helping people and businesses affected by COVID-19 should be a priority.

Vargas was sworn in by her two god-daughters. At times speaking in Spanish, she thanked health care workers and others on the front line during the pandemic and vowed to help provide resources to those suffering from the disease.

“We are highly divided and polarized as a society, but here we are,” she said. “We have an opportunity to stop the rhetoric, to stop politicizing public health, and we have hope by way of a vaccine that is the safest and most effective way to combat COVID-19.”

Addressing businesses hurt by the pandemic, Vargas said she would fight to bring the relief they need to safely reopen and recover from losses.

She also said the pandemic had highlighted existing inequities in the health system, and she would work to correct what she said is systemic racism.

“Our county has an absolute responsibility to act and to lead with intention,” she said.

“We are at a crossroads. We must work together collectively to break down the barriers, policies and procedures that for years have disproportionately impacted the health and economic well-being of our communities.”

Vargas, the first Latino to represent the heavily Latino district, also spoke about the importance of family and choked up when mentioning her father.

“Family is everything to me, and that’s what this campaign was rooted on,” she said. “And as I transition into government, my commitment isn’t wavering. Families will always be first. As our parents taught us, we are strong together.”

Lawson-Remer, who was sworn in by 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Margaret McKeown, spoke about the potential to build a new, green and sustainable economy. She said she would work toward creating an infrastructure that would deliver a better qualify of life to county residents and create jobs in biotech and in green, worker-friendly industries.

“Affordable housing, traffic and congestion, and protecting our beaches and open spaces are all urgent priorities, fundamental to our future,” she said.

“Protecting our coastline means a cutting-edge storm water capture and treatment system. Reducing traffic means modern transportation networks across the county.”

She also said the county would take an evidence-based approach to addressing COVID-19, rolling out vaccines as quickly as possible and providing a lifeline to small businesses and workers who have lost jobs during the health crisis.

Lawson-Remer also spoke about taking meaningful action on racial justice and creating an action plan to tackle climate change.

After being sworn in by former California State Senate and Assembly member Mark Wyland, Anderson spoke for a few minutes, thanking his family, Wyland and the people of District 2.

“They deserve somebody fighting for them all the time,” he said. “And I know that we’re facing tremendous challenges in the county, whether it’s COVID, homelessness, or obtainable housing. But we’re going to be laser-focused on those issues, delivering for our community. “

Anderson also said he had met with all members of the board and looked forward to working with them.

“They’re wonderful people,” he said. “They’re absolutely focused on solving problems, so I know that even though these challenges are great, together we’ll climb that hill and solve these problems for all San Diegans.”

— Gary Warth is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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