2009 Swearing-in Remarks

January 6, 2009
County Administration Center

I want to thank the people of the Second District for putting their faith and trust in me for another term. It continues to be the greatest honor of my life to represent you.

There is no place on earth like the Second District. We work hard. We say what we mean. And, a handshake still matters. When I’m in my communities and I shake hands with someone, it’s more than a formality. It’s me promising to do my best.

Today, I offer this handshake to the people in my district: I will continue to give you nothing less than 110 percent of my efforts. Thanks to you, I am more than ready for Round Five!

Thank you to my husband Paul and my son Tom for their unwavering support over the years. Thank you to County staff for your patience and hard work. Thank you to my staff, past and present, for all your hard work.

When I first joined the board, I promised that I would work every single day…as hard as I could…to fight for taxpayers. Our goal was to create a County government that people could, once again, trust and be proud of… and we did!

Working with my outstanding colleagues on this Board, and in partnership with CEO Walt Ekard, his talented leadership team and every single County employee, we have rebuilt and redefined local government. This county is on solid financial ground and has in place a revolutionary management system that helps us keep it that way.

Turning to the year ahead, in 2009 our board will have to fight like never before to protect County resources. It took years of sacrifice and discipline to get our government where it is today.

We will need to hang tough to keep the State’s budget problems from becoming our own. I appreciate the strict fiscal discipline my colleagues have demonstrated over the years and am glad we are in this fight together.

As always, public safety will continue to be my number one budget priority.

Four years ago, I promised that I would work to consolidate the fractured fire districts in fire-prone areas. Today, the County’s commitment to spend $15.5 million annually to consolidate rural fire agencies means better-coordinated services at more than 50 stations in the unincorporated area. Ultimately, 1.5 million acres will fall under the new San Diego County Regional Fire Authority. That’s more than half the geographic area of the county.

This past Election Day, an astounding number of voters sent us a message. They want regional leaders to continue to invest in better fire protection. I look forward to working to that end.

Law enforcement must continue to be on the front burner. Another grave threat to the public’s safety is gaining unfortunate traction: gang violence. We cannot ignore it or deny it. We cannot cross our fingers and hope it goes away. Law enforcement is making inroads. More needs to be done. I will soon be detailing ways to combat this growing menace.

In 2009, there are different challenges facing every community I represent. And in every community there are groups of ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things to make their neighborhoods safer, cleaner, healthier and more beautiful. I’m thrilled to be involved in these efforts. I am especially energized about several long-term projects that will finally be realized this year.

On January 24th, the public will get its first peek at the Lakeside Baseball Park. This incredible facility is a testament to what can happen when community members and the County join forces for kids. The park will be the pride of Lakeside and East County and I can’t wait to join moms, dads and ballplayers to officially open it.

Building safe places for kids to play will continue to be a high priority for me. In 2008, we made headway with Jess Martin Park in Julian and opened the region’s first water playground at Hilton Head Park in Rancho San Diego. We also partnered with the Padres to open parks in Ramona and Allied Gardens.

In 2009, we’ll focus on parks in Harbison Canyon, Spring Valley and Campo. And, we’ll work on soccer fields in Jamul, Lakeside and Ramona. We hope to add to the nine high-tech turf fields we’ve already installed at high schools in East County.

We’ll zero in on ball fields in Alpine and make progress on an aquatics center in Rancho San Diego.

We’ll keep plugging away on exciting County trails projects too: the Sweetwater Loop Trail, the Santa Maria Creek Greenway in Ramona and the Stowe Trail from Santee to Poway to name just a few.

I said it before and I’ll say it again. When we build safe places for kids to play, they exercise, we build stronger communities. We fight crime and obesity. We support families and promote teamwork. Simply put, we plant seeds for a better future.

A couple of other things to look forward to in the year ahead: the brand new Edgemoor Skilled Nursing Center will open its compassionate doors in Santee on January 20th.

This remarkable hospital cares for San Diego County’s weakest and most vulnerable residents. When you finally see it, I hope you will agree that it is a building worthy of its extraordinary staff and its very special patients.

The County and the community of Ramona made great strides toward a first-of-its-kind intergenerational campus where seniors and kids can share each other’s strengths: Seniors energized by kids and kids inspired by seniors. Ideally, this campus will rise on the site of the new Ramona Library. This is just the beginning.

We have work to do out at Camp Lockett to see that the World War II Army Camp makes it into the history books. And, we’ve got to ensure that history recognizes Julian’s Historic Downtown as well. 2009 could very well be the year to meet those goals.

Enough of my talking; the year is fast ticking by. Let’s get on with it. There are highways in desperate need of attention. Highway 67 comes to mind. And there are more dead trees to remove from fire areas. There is recycled water that needs to be put to wider use… community revitalization plans to implement and open spaces to create.

There’s red tape to cut… bureaucracy to streamline… traffic to battle …and most of all, San Diegans who need our undivided attention… particularly in this trying economic climate. To my constituents, as always, I’m a phone call away.