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Local News

Santa Barbara County Officials Sworn In for New Terms

Starting the year afresh, Santa Barbara County officials elected last fall were sworn in on Tuesday during the 160th convening of the county's Board of Supervisors.

Tuesday's meeting was the first of the year for the supervisors, and a crowd packed the board hearing room to watch a dozen or so officials elected last fall be sworn in by Superior Court Judge James Herman.

Elected were Superior Court Judges John McGregor, Thomas Adams, Brian Hill, Frank Ochoa and Jed Beebe.

Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf and Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino were also re-elected and were present Tuesday. Wolf, who began her third, four-year term on the board of supervisors Tuesday, will also serve as the 2015 board chair.

Lavagnino, who served as the board's chair last year, began his second four-year term in office on Tuesday.

Sheriff Bill Brown, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Auditor-Controller Robert Geis, Clerk, Recorder and Assessor Joseph Holland, Treasurer-Tax Collector Harry Hagen as well as County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone were also sworn in.

Herman administered the oath, calling it a "real joy" to swear in the officials.

"The voice of the people have spoken and it's a wise voice indeed," he said.

There to give a keynote speech was journalist Ann Louise Bardach, who said local communities are a microcosm of issues that play out on the national stage.

Bardach spoke about people choosing to be brave in spite of fear to accomplish justice, citing those she met while covering the Zapatista uprising in Mexico to her own mother's intervention in the trial of a black man who she witnessed being arrested for assaulting an officer in Bardach's native New Jersey.

Bardach lives on the South Coast and has recently spoken out publicly on the Highway 101 project, and has been especially critical of Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider on the issue.

"The thing about being stuck in gridlock traffic … It inflicts lasting pain of the kind people remember, especially when they go to vote," she said.

Congratulating the board on Tuesday, "we really lucked out," she said.

Outgoing chair Steve Lavagnino said 2014 had "been a great year" and that he was amazed by the fiscal turnaround the county has made, adding that revenues exceeded expenditures and that the county is down 300 full-time positions, making government "smaller and more efficient."

Lavagnino mentioned he'd been attacked by Supervisor Peter Adam in an editorial for having "rose-colored glasses," but that he's proud of the progress.

"I appreciate every employee of this county … who is working to make a better future for this county, and I really appreciated this last year," he said

After she was handed the gavel, Wolf said that while "there are disagreements, there is genuine caring about each other" among board members.

"I'm very proud to know these incredible people," she said. "Together, we'll work through some very challenging things."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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