The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors ushered in a historic era this week with the swearing in of two new supervisors, a new county sheriff and new assessor. Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl are the first supervisors to be sworn onto the five member board in six years, moving into seats vacated by Supervisors Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky, respectively.Sheriff Jim McDonnell comes to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after serving as Chief of the Long Beach Police Department for the past four years. Assessor Jeffrey Prang, who has served as a city councilman and mayor in West Hollywood as well as special assistant in the Assessor’s office, will manage the county’s $1.2 trillion property tax roll. All four new office holders were greeted by enthusiastic crowds of family, friends, supporters and colleagues in the Hall of Administration Board Room.
Solis, who returned to her native Los Angeles from Washington D.C., where she served as Secretary of Labor for the Obama Administration, pledged support for issues ranging from reducing unemployment, increasing job opportunities and supporting reforms in child welfare and the criminal justice systems. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas warmly welcomed both newly elected supervisors and noted that they will bring with them not only fresh perspectives, but the necessary skills and expertise needed to tackle difficult issues. “We welcome you, we salute you,” he said. “I wish to acknowledge your commitment to bringing a higher quality of life for all the people of Los Angeles County. I look forward to working with you on issues of mutual interest and common concern.”
Supervisor Solis’ friend and mentor Dolores Huerta noted that she has always been a humble person, results oriented and dedicated to helping increase worker’s rights. “She is a living example of what a person in office should do,” said Huerta. “She is a true public servant.” Supervisor Solis said she was happy to return to Los Angeles. “The best feeling today is being at home,” she said. “I’m humbled by your support.” She noted that some of her priorities would include increasing well-paying jobs, continue the summer youth jobs program, increasing the bio tech industry presence in Los Angeles County and making the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Safety “a reality.”
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who grew up in South Los Angeles, became a child actor and later went on to author a record number of bills when she served in the state assembly, said she was eager to get to work. Supervisor Kuehl was welcomed by her close friend and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as well as current Mayor Eric Garcetti. Villaraigosa, paid tribute to Kuehl not as an effective legislator, but as a trailblazer for LGBT rights who never lost sight of her priorities or acknowledged defeat on dearly held causes. After she was sworn in by her sister, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Jerilyn Borack, Kuehl sketched an outline of her agenda as supervisor:
“I want every child in the county to be safe. I want them to be healthy and educated and able, without barrier, to fulfill their potential,” she said. “That is a big job for the county. I want us to be connected from one end of the county to the other. I don’t want there to be any more homeless people. These are not dreams. More and more people who did not own homes, last year, got a home. And I certainly want working families in this county to get a fair shake.” Sheriff McDonnell, who was sworn in Monday afternoon, meantime, said he looked toward establishing a high bar of excellence and a mantra of integrity, accountability and service as the 32nd Sheriff of Los Angeles County. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas noted he was eager to work side by side with the new sheriff in implementing much needed reforms.
“Sheriff McDonnell has shown he is true leader,” he said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us but I am confident he has the ability to create a department that will be seen as model for law enforcement.” With 18,000 men and women in the department, it is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the country. He told the audience that he planned to embrace oversight, improve treatment of those in custody and maintain good community relations. “Integrity is our character, we must show ethics and humane treatment toward those who are under our care. How we treat people will define us in the eyes of the community as much as what we achieve,” he said. “I stand before you ready, humbled and honored to take on these new challenges. We will move beyond past divisions and fractures. Today we have the opportunity to start fresh.” Added Ridley-Thomas, “It is a new era here on the Board of Supervisors and I am eager to working with each and every one of my new colleagues.”