Eight people elected by Calaveras County voters in November — including the sheriff, two supervisors, the assessor, the auditor-controller, the county clerk-recorder, the district attorney and the treasurer-tax collector — held up their right hands and swore their oaths of office to the public Friday morning in San Andreas.
They were elected individually in eight separate elective contests, but standing together they represented vital law enforcement, property-based, monetary, financial, and decision-making powers over this county’s 45,000 residents.
District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway, Sheriff Rick DiBasilio, Assessor Leslie Davis, Auditor-Controller Rebecca Callen, Clerk-Recorder Rebecca Turner, District Attorney Barbara Yook, Treasurer-Tax Collector Barbara Sullivan, and new District 5 Supervisor Ben Stopper all swore to support and defend the constitutions of the United States and California.
Stopper, a former Calaveras County planning commission appointee, was sworn into elected office for the first time.
“When I campaigned, people were telling me they want more transparency,” Stopper said shortly after the swearing-in. “They want somebody who is hard-working, open-minded, taking all facts into account before making decisions. People consistently question me about budget issues. They’re not sure where money gets used.”
Another thing people want, Stopper said, is respect from their elected representatives.
“I think that is part of why I got elected,” said Stopper, who in November defeated the outgoing District 5 supervisor, Clyde Clapp, who was elected in 2016 by recall to oppose commercial cannabis and was known at times for his blunt, dismissive and outspoken approach to public office.
Callaway, the former District 3 supervisor who was returned to office by defeating in November the incumbent who replaced her in 2014, said she is looking forward to challenges, working with county staff, and with constituents in her district.
“I’m keeping myself open, to the approach to issues,” Callaway said. “The oath, that’s the base. If something comes up, no matter what the issue, you go back to the base, that base is I’m promising to uphold the constitutions, both state and federal.”
DiBasilio, whose election in November was the first time he faced voters, did not stay for a reception following the swearing-in. DiBasilio was appointed sheriff of Calaveras County by a 4-1 Board of Supervisors vote in May 2016 following the death of then-Sheriff Gary Kuntz. In November, DiBasilio received more than 58 percent of 20,500 ballots cast to defeat challenger Gary Lee Stevens in a runoff.
“It’s an honor to be reelected,” sid Yook, who has served as district attorney for Calaveras County since 2010. “It’s my third term, but it’s still an honor. I’m looking forward to the next four years, hopefully with the Board of Supervisors’ support to fight crime.”
Callen also thanked voters for their continued support, and said she looks forward to working with all department heads and with new leadership at the board level to help bring about positive changes in the new year.
Davis said she wanted to thank voters for their trust in her and for returning her to office. The oath of office is “to reaffirm our commitment to what we do, serving the public.”
Sullivan said she’s learned a lot in the past eight years, about how information moves and doesn’t move. She said California’s Property Tax Postponement Program can help disabled taxpayers and limited-income senior taxpayers with annual income under $42,000, but most people don’t know about it.
“Maybe I will be getting out more in the public to talk to people,” Sullivan said. “Some people confuse me with the assessor.”
Asked what the swearing-in and her oath of office mean to her, Sullivan said, “My grandmother was an immigrant, from Portugal. So I’m all about the American way, and that includes taking an oath, making a public promise, honesty, loyalty, transparency.”
Turner, who as clerk-recorder also supervises the county Elections Office, said she is looking forward to a busy year preparing for 2020 elections. She said new laws taking effect in 2020 will keep her and her staff busy.
In 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that permanently moves California’s primary from one of the nation’s last, in June, to one of the first, in the second week in March. The calendar move is likely to make the Golden State primary far more significant in presidential contests. Senate Bill 568, called the Prime Time Primary Act, received bipartisan support in the State Legislature.
Prappana Smith, a vocal advocate for commercial cannabis activities and a former registered grower in the Avery area, was all smiles as he drove away from Calaveras County Government Center in San Andreas.
“This new board is going to be more professional and less contentious,” Smith said. “They won’t be walking out on people during public comment. I’m excited. I think they’ll get some things done. I think they’ll definitely have a different approach to cannabis, something that works for everybody.”
The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to ban commercial cannabis activities a year ago. Supervisors Gary Tofanelli, District 1, Dennis Mills, District 4, and Clapp, District 5, voted for the ban. Jack Garamendi, District 2, and Mike Oliveira, District 3, opposed it.