Supervisors Karen Spiegel and V. Manuel Perez, who ran uncontested, and newly elected Supervisor Yxstian Gutierrez were sworn in Tuesday at the start of the first Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting of 2023.

“I’m looking forward to the next four years, because there’s things that we weren’t able to accomplish in the first four, and there’s some wonderful opportunities for Riverside County, there’s so much potential here,” Spiegel said. “The fact that all of you have come out in this weather, each one of you has a different reason for being here, but you’re here because you care about Riverside County, each and every one of us up here cares about Riverside County. And that’s our job is to do what’s best for the county, for the people, and especially for those that really can’t care for themselves.”

Spiegel said she would be focusing on local control, behavioral health and county funding.

“I’m no longer gonna sit back,” she said. “I pick my battles, and those are the three big ones I’m picking this year.”

Perez said he would be focusing on economic development, public safety and health and human services throughout this term.

“I will say the one area that I want to concentrate on—and I want to say it loud and clear to the folks back home as well as to my colleagues here because I need their support as well—is to ensure that we build out affordable housing, and that we ensure ultimately we have the infrastructure so that people no matter who they are, where they come from, once again, have clean drinking water and have access to housing,” he said. “That is the struggle that I face every single day in the east end of the Coachella Valley—Oasis, North Shore, Mecca—the infrastructure needs are huge. They’re enormous.”

Gutierrez said he wanted to continue the work he started as mayor of Moreno Valley to address homelessness throughout the county as well as public safety and infrastructure.

“Those are very, very critical things that I heard from many, many residents in the fifth district,” he said. “So I really want to focus on those kinds of issues in the fifth district, and just make the district work for the residents.”

Following a brief recess, the board was back to elect a board chair and board vice chair, prompting Supervisor Chuck Washington to remark, “I hope we get it done in one round of voting.”

After a brief discussion, Supervisor Kevin Jeffries was unanimously elected board chair and Washington was elected vice chair. The board also settled a number of board appointments including Spiegel and Jeffries as chair and vice chair, respectively, to the Flood Control and Water Conservation District; Perez and Washington as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Housing Authority; Washington and Spiegel as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District; Gutierrez and Spiegel as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Waste Resources Management District. 

“For those of you who are not familiar with the board, individual board members, we serve, between the five of us, on about 40 different commissions and committees,” Jeffries said.

Also sworn in was Auditor Controller Ben J. Benoit, whose mother administered his oath of office as his sister held the family bible on which he took his oath.

In other county business: Riverside County officials voted to help rehab a fire-damaged affordable housing complex in Palm Springs. Read more here from The Palm Springs Post.

You can watch a full recording of the meeting here.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.