You would have thought the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors were a bunch of rock stars as Ken Vogel and Larry Ruhstaller were sworn in to their second terms on Monday. The board chambers in downtown Stockton were packed, with nearly everyone dressed in their Sunday best. There were even some reserved seats.
The board's reorganizational meeting was held on Monday, with no other county business on the agenda. That's reserved for today's meeting.
Vogel, who represents the Lodi area, and Ruhstaller, from Stockton, were sworn into their second and final terms of office. Members of the Board of Supervisors are limited to two four-year terms. Vogel was sworn in by Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, while Ruhstaller was sworn in by San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Anthony Lucaccini.
"Ken knows very well that first you get sworn in, then you get sworn at," Berryhill quipped, just before administering the oath of office.
Vogel and Ruhstaller were unopposed in 2010 in their respective districts.
"When we think we have a mandate from the voters, think again," Ruhstaller said.
Ruhstaller was also elected board chairman for 2011, replacing Supervisor Carlos Villapudua. Ruhstaller's election by his board peers was basically ceremony, because county ordinance requires that the chairmanship be rotational. Supervisor Steve Bestolarides was elected vice chairman, which means that he will take the gavel in 2012.
Four other elected county officials took their oath of office as well on Monday — District Attorney Jim Willett, Auditor-Controller Adrian Van Houten, Treasurer-Tax Collector Shabbir Khan and Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk Ken Blakemore.
In reviewing his first term, Vogel said the board dealt with severe revenue shortages, plus water and transportation issues. He also noted the success of programs like Select San Joaquin, a program designed to showcase produce grown in the county and educate people about the economic, environmental, health and taste benefits of county-grown crops, and AgVenture, an annual event educating third-graders about agriculture's role in the county.
Challenges for 2011, Vogel said, include continuing budget woes, water and other issues.
"We have a very hard-working board," Vogel said, adding that former Supervisors Steve Gutierrez and Victor Mow were also helpful.
He also extended his appreciation to county employees.
Ruhstaller said that challenges for his year as board chairman range from public safety, increasing the efficiency and reducing expenses at the county-owned San Joaquin General Hospital, expanding Stockton Metropolitan Airport, water and Delta issues, changing the boundaries of the five supervisorial districts once census figures are announced, labor contract negotiations and filling potholes.
"We will survive this," Ruhstaller said.
Villapudua, a Stockton resident, said the board accomplished a lot during 2010, when he was chairman. One of the county's highlights, he said, was a lawsuit the county filed against the state over plans to locate a prison hospital at Arch and Austin roads, about two miles east of Highway 99. A settlement reached last year will result in local hiring, local sales tax improvements and better traffic flow, Villapudua said.
Other highlights from 2010, he said, included a county policy to encourage contractors to hire locally, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reduce flood insurance premiums and establishing an interim board of directors to make improvements to operations at San Joaquin General Hospital.
"I have really enjoyed this job," Villapudua said. "May God bless this county."
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.