SAN DIEGO COUNTY, California — The three new members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Monday took their oaths of office virtually, rather than in person, due to ongoing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Joel Anderson (District 2), Terra Lawson-Remer (District 3) and Nora Vargas (District 1) were sworn in based on their districts' numerical order. Each gave a short speech, thanking voters who elected them and family members for their support.
Anderson replaces Dianne Jacob, who joined the Board of Supervisors in 1993 and had held elected office longer than anyone in county history. Anderson, who served in the California Assembly from 2007-11 and the state Senate from 2011-18, defeated Poway Mayor Steve Vaus in a tight race for the District 2 seat.
Vargas, a former Southwestern Community College board member and the first Latina to serve on the Board of Supervisors, replaces Greg Cox, who held the seat for 25 years. She defeated state Sen. Ben Hueso in the November election.
Cox and Jacob were barred from running for re-election because of term limits.
Lawson-Remer, who served as an adviser in the Obama administration's Treasury Department, defeated Kristin Gaspar, who was seeking a second term.
Anderson is a Republican and Lawson-Remer and Vargas are Democrats. Although the board seats are officially nonpartisan, the board will now have a Democratic majority.
The three new supervisors will join Nathan Fletcher (District 4) and Jim Desmond (District 5), both of whom are in their first terms.
Vargas gave part of her acceptance speech in Spanish. She praised frontline workers fighting the pandemic and said she will fight to aid residents and small businesses during this difficult time.
"I am proud of being a community organizer, and that's not going to change," Vargas said. "Our path from this pandemic will not be easy. I am committed to hitting the ground running from day one."
Vargas said she will "work for a county that is responsive to our needs," and wants families to know that "in me, they will have an advocate on the board fighting for them every day."
Anderson, who was sworn in by former state Sen. Mark Wyland, took the oath of office as his wife Kate stood next to him.
District 2 constituents "deserve somebody fighting for them all the time," said Anderson, who cited combating the COVID-19 pandemic and reducing homelessness as two main challenges.
Anderson added that he looks "forward to working with my new colleagues (on the board). They are wonderful people, and absolutely focused on solving problems."
"I've got work to do," he added. "Thank you again for the privilege, and it's a great honor to be here."
Lawson-Remer was sworn in by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Lawson- Remer said she was "excited to move an ambitious agenda" on climate change policy, better health/mental health care and racial justice reform, among others.
"We have an opportunity to provide a path to the rest of the state," Lawson-Remer said. "We face historic challenges, and we have historic ambitions to match. This is a new day for our board."
Desmond and Fletcher said they look forward to working with their new board members.
Desmond said his focus "will be the same as its been for the first two years in office: streets, roads, infrastructure and safety. We must provide those four necessities to all San Diegans, no matter if you live in the city or unincorporated area."
Fletcher said Monday was "a special day for Supervisor Vargas, Supervisor Lawson-Remer and Supervisor Anderson. All three fought hard to earn the trust of voters from the communities they represent."
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who is married to Fletcher, congratulated Vargas.
On her Twitter feed, Gonzalez wrote that "change happens when it's deliberate and intentional. I'm so proud of my good friend & happy for our shared constituents. #LatinasLead."
The Board of Supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday to select a new chairperson and officers.