New District 1 Supervisor Nora Vargas helps county board enter a new era
Political makeup of the board shifts as Vargas, fellow Democrat Terra Lawson-Remer and Republican Joel Anderson are sworn in.
San Diego County policies on climate change, public health and other issues may take a new direction after three new members of the Board of Supervisors were sworn in Jan. 4.
Democrat Nora Vargas replaces Republican Greg Cox in District 1, which includes the Point Loma peninsula, and Democrat Terra Lawson-Remer replaces Republican Kristin Gaspar in District 3. Joel Anderson replaces fellow Republican Dianne Jacob in District 2.
Vargas, Lawson-Remer and Anderson were elected in November and joined the five-member board through online swearing-in ceremonies, each vowing to work with the other members on crucial issues facing the county.
The two other supervisors, Jim Desmond and Nathan Fletcher, were elected to the board two years ago.
With the addition of Vargas and Lawson-Remer, the composition of the board has made a dramatic political shift to the left. Fletcher previously was the only Democrat on the board.
Vargas was sworn in by her two goddaughters. At times speaking in Spanish, she thanked health care workers and others on the front line during the COVID-19 pandemic and vowed to help provide resources to those suffering from the disease.
“We are highly divided and polarized as a society, but here we are,” she said. “We have an opportunity to stop the rhetoric, to stop politicizing public health, and we have hope by way of a vaccine that is the safest and most effective way to combat COVID-19.”
Addressing businesses hurt by the pandemic, Vargas said she would fight to bring the relief they need to safely reopen and recover from losses.
She also said the pandemic has highlighted existing inequities in the health system and that she would work to correct what she said is systemic racism.
“Our county has an absolute responsibility to act and to lead with intention,” she said. “We are at a crossroads. We must work together collectively to break down the barriers, policies and procedures that for years have disproportionately impacted the health and economic well-being of our communities.”
Vargas, the first Latino to represent the heavily Latino district, also spoke about the importance of family and choked up when mentioning her father.
“Family is everything to me, and that’s what this campaign was rooted on,” she said. “And as I transition into government, my commitment isn’t wavering. Families will always be first. As our parents taught us, we are strong together.”
— Gary Warth writes for The San Diego Union-Tribune. Point Loma-OB Monthly staff contributed to this report.