FAIRFIELD — A new-look Solano County Board of Supervisors made its debut Tuesday.
Skip Thomson and Erin Hannigan took their seats behind the dais before a crowd of about 200 people. They joined Supervisors Linda Seifert, Jim Spering and John Vasquez on the five-member board.
This is the team that will oversee the $844 million county operation, encompassing everything from libraries to health and social services to jails to rural land planning. This is the team that will tackle an estimated $10 million structural deficit in the $221 million general fund budget, as well as controversial proposals to redevelop the county fairgrounds in Vallejo and to establish day reporting centers for former state prison inmates under county supervision.
Thomson defeated incumbent Supervisor Mike Reagan in the June 2012 election. He represents the 5th District, which includes Rio Vista and parts of Fairfield, Suisun City and Vacaville.
He is both a newcomer and veteran. He served on the Board of Supervisors from 1992 to 2003 and as county assessor from 2003 to late 2005, so he is no stranger to county government. But he is new to some of the issues that confront the county today.
Thomson took a ceremonial oath of office administered by the Rev. Ken Doan, having taken his actual oath Monday. During board comments, he walked to the front to the audience, picked up his baby grandson and stood in front of the dais.
“This is really the reason many of us got involved in politics,” Thomson said as he held the baby.
He has some ideas that he hopes will meet with agreement among his colleagues, though he expects disagreements as well, Thomson said. The county faces difficult financial times, even though things are better than in recent years, he said.
“I look forward to the challenges,” Thomson said. “I think we can address them reasonably and respectfully.”
Hannigan defeated Anthony Intintoli in a November 2012 runoff election and replaces Supervisor Barbara Kondylis, who did not run for re-election. She represent the 1st District, which includes mainly Vallejo.
She is a newcomer to county government, but has sat on the Vallejo City Council since 2007. She is the daughter of Tom Hannigan, who served on the Fairfield City Council and Solano County Board of Supervisors in the 1970s, as the local state assemblyman from 1978 until 1996 and as director of the California Department of Water Resources from 1999 to 2003.
Hannigan took a ceremonial oath of office administered by her teenage daughter Hannah Lesley – Hannigan is married and goes by her maiden name. She took the actual oath Monday.
“It’s wonderful to see all of you here today supporting this new Board of Supervisors going into 2013,” she said in front of the packed board chamber.
Seifert also took the oath of office, having won a second term in the June 2012 election. Seifert represents the 2nd District, which includes Benicia, parts of Vallejo and the Green Valley/Cordelia area. She had her oath administered by State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and it was the real thing, as opposed to being strictly ceremonial.
Seifert welcomed the possibility that supervisors will have their disagreements on some issues. This allows the board to explore alternatives and arrive at collaborative solutions, she said.
“Our best work is the result of what I call ‘respectful disagreement,’ ” Seifert said.
Once the new Board of Supervisors got seated, it faced its first assignment. It had to elect a new board chair, a task that in recent years has sometimes proven divisive.
Not so Tuesday. Vasquez nominated Seifert to remain in the position for another year, with Thomson serving as vice-chairman and Hannigan as chairwoman pro-tem. The newly constituted Board of Supervisors on its first vote approved the move unanimously.
Spering presented Seifert with the gavel and praised her work as chairwoman over the past year. Among other things, he praised the way she has listened to and dealt with the concerns of supervisors and the way she has run the Board of Supervisors meetings.
“When it’s done the wrong way, it creates tremendous problems and these problems last and linger on,” Spering said.
Supervisors also quickly agreed where each would sit behind the dais, a mundane task that would signal trouble ahead if it erupted into controversy. All agreed that they were fine with the seats they already had.
Then came the assignments to some 50 county committees and regional and local boards. Supervisors had previously submitted their preferred assignments and had to work out who would do what. The assignments range from the Association of Bay Area Governments to the Delta Protection Commission to the county’s Family Justice Center Committee to the Northern California Counties Tribal Matters Consortium.
Supervisors in a few of cases wanted the same positions and strongly so, but fairly quickly made their way through the long list with no raised voices and unanimously approved the assignments.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.