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Steve Bestolarides focused on San Joaquin County’s general plan, hospitals

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Posted: Monday, January 9, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:21 am, Mon Jan 9, 2012.

Adopting a new county general plan, getting San Joaquin General Hospital certified as a stroke center and developing plans to add businesses surrounding Stockton Metropolitan Airport are among Steve Bestolarides' top priorities as he becomes chairman of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.

Today marks the ceremonial passing of the gavel when Bestolarides, a Stockton resident who grew up in Lodi, replaces Larry Ruhstaller as board chairman. The chairmanship, by county ordinance, is rotated annually, which means that Lodi-area Supervisor Ken Vogel will become chairman in 2013.

The county has applied for San Joaquin General, which it owns and operates, and it will be designated as a specialist in treating stroke victims, though Bestolarides hopes that all private hospitals become designated stroke centers as well.

Additionally, Bestolarides said he wants to get protocols and procedures in place within six months so that San Joaquin General becomes designated as a trauma center. Currently, head trauma victims must be transported to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Doctors Hospital in Modesto or Memorial Medical Center in Modesto.

As for the general plan, which hasn't been updated since 1992, public meetings will be held throughout the county. A key element will be "community plans" to guide future growth in communities like Woodbridge, Lockeford, Clements, Acampo, Thornton and Morada.

Bestolarides said he expects the Board of Supervisors to adopt the new general plan this year.

While sitting in his office last week with reports to read and a Canada Dry beverage on his meeting table, Bestolarides said he considers the chairmanship to be ceremonial except that he runs the board meetings, and he plans few changes.

He would like to get the board agenda to be paperless to save on materials, and he would like the Tuesday agenda to be posted the previous Wednesday to give board members more time to prepare for the meetings and the public to know what the board will be discussing.

Bestolarides didn't address water issues, the Delta or the proposed peripheral canal, saying that Vogel and Ruhstaller have done a good job at taking the lead in protecting the county's and Northern California's interests. Bestolarides said he plans to rely on Ruhstaller's and Vogel's guidance on water and Delta issues.

Bestolarides said he's excited about a program Ruhstaller initiated with University of the Pacific, which will conduct long-term forecasting of county revenues.

"We'll be able to plan better and negotiate in better faith (with labor unions)," he said. "I will encourage (county) staff to do a two-year budget cycle."

Otherwise, Bestolarides doesn't have any major goals for his year as chairman.

"I don't like over-promising and under-delivering," he said. "A great thing about the Board of Supervisors is that we're all one-fifth of the equation."

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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