A Historic Changing of the Guard

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors: (L-R) Sheila Kuehl, HIlda Solis, Janice Hahn, Kathryn Barger and Mark Ridley-Thomas

With its newly elected members, Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger, sworn into office, the Board of Supervisors marks a turning point in the leadership of Los Angeles County.

For the first time since the Board was founded in 1852, four of its five members are women, and its chairman is African American.

“It is my honor to be a part of this newly reconstituted Board,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the Second District. “I have no doubt this Board will represent the people of Los Angeles County in an extraordinary way.”

The Board also includes Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl, who represent the First and Third Districts, respectively.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the Board would tackle the crisis of homelessness gripping the County and a host of other issues, including immigration; environmental stewardship; the protection of women and girls; the rights of the incarcerated; and services for foster youth. “There’s no shortage of work, no shortage of leadership, and I’m ready to get to it,” he said.

bcb_3137-2Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn vowed to honor the legacy of her father, the late Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who represented the Second District for 40 years, from 1952 to 1992. The Hall of Administration, seat of county government, bears his name.

“I will bring the same passion for service that he did everyday,” she promised after being sworn in by her brother, Superior Court Judge and former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn.

Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger took the oath of office administered by her predecessor, Michael Antonovich, who served for 36 years, starting in 1980. “All of our communities deserve an open door to their county government – and to know that the county government is committed to working for them,” she said. “I am also committed to working with everyone – those within the county, and those who partner with the county – in a cooperative, solution-driven manner that places people and problem-solving above all else.”

One of the first acts of the newly reconstituted Board will be to consider declaring an emergency on homelessness, and placing a measure on the March 7 ballot that would help fund solutions to the crisis. Both votes are scheduled the day after the swearing-in ceremonies.

barger-antonovich-swearing-inIn their joint motion to declare an emergency, Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Barger wrote, “The County of Los Angeles is facing a grave public emergency, the pervasive and deepening homeless crisis, which currently endangers the health and safety of tens of thousands of residents, including veterans, women, children, LGBTQ youth, persons with disabilities and seniors.”

They added, “The tremendous scale of homelessness in the County threatens the economic stability of the region by burdening emergency medical services and the social services infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, in a separate motion, Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Hahn called for placing a ballot initiative before voters on March 7 that would provide an estimated $355 million in annual funding to address the crisis.