Monday marked a changing of the guard, with Leroy Ornellas ending his second and final term on the Board of Supervisors and Tracy resident Bob Elliott taking his place.
Supervisor Ken Vogel, who represents the Lodi area, was elected chairman of the five-member board.
"When I became chairman in 2008, I had an 11-page presentation," Vogel said. "I'm not going to do that today."
The board chambers, which seat about 200, were overflowing, with some spectators having to stand in the lobby. Vogel thinks the big crowd stems from the fact that Elliott was being sworn in as a county supervisor. Elliott's first official meeting is this morning.
Incumbents Steve Bestolarides and Carlos Villapudua were sworn in to a second term.
Ornellas, who is stepping down due to term limits, quoted legendary rock group Pink Floyd when describing his board colleagues and staff members: "We're only one brick in the wall."
Ornellas, who will return to his Tracy-area dairy, praised Community Development Director Kerry Sullivan in dealing with the public on planning issues.
"There used to be an adversarial relationship with people at the (planning) counter," Ornellas said.
Ornellas, in his departing remarks as south-county supervisor, noted that the Board of Supervisors made several significant accomplishments, including strengthening the county's right-to-farm ordinance, encouraging residents to purchase products made in San Joaquin County, working to get a veterans medical center to locate in French Camp, and construction of the new county administration building in downtown Stockton and the agricultural center in south Stockton.
One of the county's biggest challenges, Ornellas said, is to make a decision in the next six to eight months on what to do to house jail inmates.
"Either we're going to expand it, or we're not," he said.
Vogel said after Monday's board meeting that the problem isn't having the money to expand the county jail, but paying for staffing.
Outgoing board chairman Steve Bestolarides said he's glad the county's economy is improving, with 73 positions to be added to this year's budget.
Vogel said that when the economy returns to some form of normalcy, the Board of Supervisors must look at restoring jobs that were eliminated in recent years, renegotiate salary negotiations with employees and replenish the county's budget reserve.
Supervisors said they would like to form a committee to review issues in all aspects of criminal justice. The group would include the Sheriff's office, District Attorney, public defender, probation and representatives from each school district in the county.
Bestolarides also paid tribute to supervisors' family members, who spend many an evening alone at home because supervisors are busy attending meetings and community events.
"It's a great expense to our families because we're gone a lot; those who love us, those who put up with us," Bestolarides said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.