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News: 01/15/2013

Gorin sworn in, gets work assignments

On Jan. 8, Susan Gorin was sworn in as First District Sonoma County
Supervisor by her friend State Senator Noreen Evans.
Gorin replaces outgoing Supervisor Valerie Brown. Photo by Jay Gamel.

It was all smiles and hugs as three supervisors were sworn in before a packed house, including First District Supervisor Susan Gorin, who took her oath of office from good friend and supporter State Senator Noreen Evans. Gorin received a standing ovation from the hundreds of people crowded in the Board of Supervisors’ chambers on Jan. 8.

“I’m overwhelmed,” she said, immediately thanking everyone who supported her candidacy. Tuesday’s swearing in was for show; Gorin was officially sworn in on Jan. 2 by Bill Rousseau, the county’s clerk-recorder-assessor, to allow her to get right to business.

The crowd included ex-supervisors and city council members from almost every city in the county. Gorin is one of the only First District supervisors who did not come from the Sonoma Valley.

And for the first time since the early 1970s, the Board is made up of newcomers, with only two supervisors just starting their second terms.

Gorin has a busy schedule this year, with the first order of business hiring a full time assistant to help with the stack of paper that has been building up since Valerie Brown left office last month. As of press time, an offer had been made but not yet accepted.

“Probably my biggest job is understanding how the county works,” she said a couple of days later. “I’ll be meeting with department heads and touring the different facilities, getting to understand my assignments and responsibilities.”

She has been appointed to be the Board liaison to LAFCO, the agency that deals with city expansion. She was appointed to the North Bay Water Reuse Authority which is overseeing the installation of a long pipeline for recycled water through the south county to Napa. She will also continue serving with the Water Advisory Committee of the county’s Water Agency.

“There’s a strong element of water connections,” she noted.

She will also have close ties to health and human services.

“I am going to dive deeply into understanding gaps in services for the Valley and working with the county to work collaboratively with schools and the city of Sonoma to provide health and human services to the Valley.”

She will also continue Brown’s work with food services throughout the county. “I will be focusing on agriculture and expanding that from wine to locally grown food, leading to health and nutrition.”

The new supervisor beat her fellow Santa Rosa City Councilmember John Sawyer in an expensive and fairly close race. Her politics are not set in stone, but she tends to be more liberal in her outlook than either Sawyer or his supporter, Valerie Brown. Her presence on the Board of Supervisors may result in longer discussions and tighter votes on a wide range of issues that will have to be tackled soon. Those issues include expensive retirement packages for public employees, a tight budget, deteriorating roads and infrastructure, public health, and looming land use policies for agricultural expansion in the West County as wine producers seek milder coastal climates in warming conditions.

She will be reviewing existing appointments to various commissions and boards and meeting potential appointees to fill dozens of current vacancies.

A strong priority will be looking for funding to replace the money for Highway 12 improvements in the Springs communities just outside of Sonoma. Funding was cut off when the state cancelled redevelopment agencies throughout the state.

Her biggest challenge could come from one of her biggest supporters, the Service Employees International Union, who rejected a bid to cut back on their retirement pay last year. Under the current structure, the county could be bankrupted in a few years if it does not reduce its retirement benefits.

Shirlee Zane and Effren Carillo began their second terms, with Carillo taking the oath administered by his father. David Rabbitt, representing the Third District (Petaluma) was chosen as the Chairman of the Board for the next year.


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