With 2013 getting into full swing, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors welcomed a new face Tuesday during its first meeting of the year.
Newly elected Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam was the center of the festivities, and was sworn after unseating longtime incumbent Joni Gray in last November’s election.
Gray had served on the board for 14 years before last year’s loss, and the close election eventually provided a win for Adam, a Santa Maria farmer and political newcomer.
Also Tuesday, First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal was named board chairman for the year, replacing Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr in the position. Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino will serve as vice chairman.
Carbajal and Farr were both re-elected to four-year terms in November, and were sworn in with Adam as well.
After the hand-off of the gavel from Farr to Carbajal, she also handed him a large black briefcase containing a satellite phone Farr’s staff termed “the bat phone,” to be used if the county Office of Emergency Services needs to reach the chairman.
Despite the festive atmosphere, the county is facing some daunting challenges as it moves into the new year, a fact that did not go unnoticed by some of the supervisors.
Carbajal welcomed Adam, and lauded the county for what it has been able to accomplish, in spite of the economy.
But challenges such as building a new jail, which he called “a big kahuna project,” as well as restructuring the county’s Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Department, remain in spite of the progress already made.
Adam also spoke to the public about moving up to the front of the room to tackle some of the county’s challenges, instead of just showing up to meetings as a member of the public.
“It’s really daunting being up here,” he said. “It’s kind of weird for a guy from the field.”
Many of Adam’s family were in the audience, and he thanked them, as well as all of the Fourth District voters who selected him for the seat.
During his comments, Adam read an email he had received from a woman who had voted for him; she recounted why she had chosen him as a candidate.
Adam’s comments about not leaving debt for future generations struck a chord with her, she said, as well as another incident, where she recalled one woman asking Adam to help her read through the propositions on the November ballot.
Adam’s solution to the slew of propositions was simple: “If it costs money, vote no,” he told her.
“I hope I don’t disappoint you,” Adam said to the woman from the dais Tuesday. “And if I start going off the rails, give me a call.”