Swearing In Remarks by Supervisor Warren Slocum: “Ushering in a New Era”

Supervisor Warren Slocum was sworn into office Monday evening by Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre, who was joined on the stage at the Fair Oaks Community Center in Redwood City by Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki and East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica. The ceremony was attended by a large crowd of community members, friends and family.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Congresswoman Jackie Speier were among those who welcomed Supervisor Slocum as the new District 4 representative.

The following are Supervisor Slocum’s prepared remarks:

Supervisor Warren Slocum

Supervisor Warren Slocum

Thanks to everyone gathered here this evening. I am humbled by your presence and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize Congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier who have taken time out of their schedules to be here tonight. Thank you.

I am especially grateful for my wife Maria’s support, inspiration and wise counsel (and hard work) during this campaign and throughout my career. I want to thank our sons Jonathan and Justin along with our entire extended family for all you do to support us. Both Maria and I have dedicated our lives to public service. Maria is a member of the Redwood City School Board and works as a Librarian for the jewel of this neighborhood – the Biblioteca Fair Oaks. Our work underscores the value we place in public service. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” To our sons – whatever you decide to do in your life – we hope you will always share this value. 

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo said to me that her service on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors was the “best job she’d ever had.” And that’s exactly how I feel as I begin my new journey. I am honored by the opportunity the voters have given me to serve and I will work hard to keep their trust.

I firmly believe we’re entering an exciting “New Era” where we have the opportunity and the responsibility to remake county government and build a foundation that will carry us through generations to come.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo

Imagine if government was different and could excite, innovate and inspire. To me it’s about imagining what government could be and advocating for innovative changes that can help bring about a more open and transparent government that’s highlighted by increased participation and inclusion.

The important question is – if we want county government to be more nimble and effective – what does that look like and how do we get from here to there?

I believe the voters sent very clear messages on November 6.

With the passage of Measure A, voters told us that they value the services that the outstanding men and women who work in San Mateo County provide. I also think they were saying – we want to give you time to continue the job of restructuring, modernizing and streamlining services. They understand that this process, at its best, is one that is detailed and methodical, and if done right, can result in better, more effective government.

In effect, we have our own version of the “Grand Bargain.”

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (foreground) and Maria Diaz-Slocum

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (foreground) and Maria Diaz-Slocum

The voters have done their part, now it’s incumbent upon us to complete our part. 

We need to use this next decade to advance the work that my four colleagues began during the most difficult of times so that when this tax expires, we will have a sustainable and balanced budget.

At the same time that we embark upon the larger mission of restructuring government, with the approval of Measure B, voters said – they want us to do a better job of serving the people of our districts. We need to recognize that in this new era, we must connect with a greater share of the people. If we choose not to accept this new reality, the voters have made it easier for others who understand this need, to defeat us at the next election.

In late November, I had an informal breakfast with a group of Menlo Park officials and residents. The issue of the unfortunate rash of shootings that had plagued that city came up. It was brought to my attention that the Sheriff’s office had a resource that could be helpful in fighting this effort. I contacted the Sheriff and he agreed to make that resource available to Menlo Park.

This may or may not make a difference. But the larger point is that this is the way government should work. When residents pay taxes, they want us solve problems — exactly how that gets done is of far less concern.

Let me be clear. In most cases, the culprit is not an unwillingness to cooperate, rather it is the existing patchwork of different bureaucracies, outdated state laws and the imaginary walls between cities and the county.

It’s time to explore new ways forward.

One model for this new way forward is illustrated by the work of Redwood City 2020. That organization is a partnership that brings together key public and private organizations in our community in ongoing efforts to ensure the health and success of all children, youth and families served by the Redwood City School District. Together, the partners identify barriers and then implement collaborative approaches that will open the doors to success. 

Working in a collaborative, cooperative manner using leveraged assets, they have delivered high value solutions to the community.

In order to scout out those kinds of possibilities, I would like to invite Mayor Ruben Abrica of East Palo Alto, Mayor Peter Ohtaki of Menlo Park and Mayor Alicia Aguirre of Redwood City – and anyone else who shares an interest – to join me in conversations to try and look for similar kinds of new ways forward where we can cooperate on big things and little things – leverage our individual strengths and involve relevant community stakeholders – with the goal of developing shared services that deliver mutual benefits.

In the future, we must be very focused on where we’re going and very flexible about how we get there. If we overlay our plans and work together in new ways, we just might see new opportunities for meaningful progress.

When I say the words, “New Era,” I am in part talking about the transformative possibilities of engaging citizens through the use of technology–and changing the way people interact with government. New tools make it possible to conduct business cheaper, in a more open, collaborative, and cooperative manner. And a huge side benefit is that it will bring new people into the process.

Why is this important?

We have a new generation that is waiting to be called to action; we have the tools to reach them; and, now is the time to get started.

In November, nearly 600,000 new voters used California’s online voter registration system to register to vote. Turnout was as much as 10 points higher among those who registered on line. And, half of those who registered online were between 18 and 29.

While we will never engage everybody, if we move the needle by 5-10%,  that’s a big deal. We can’t just throw our hands up and do nothing if people don’t participate. We need to find engagement strategies that work. The burden is on us.

Using technology to improve services while reducing costs and environmental impacts remains one of my proudest achievements as the County Clerk-Assessor-Recorder. We are the front door to Silicon Valley. The Peninsula is home to technologies that change the world every day. We should take advantage of our geography in those terms.

I will continue my strong support for the use of technology to make county government more efficient, transparent and cost-effective. We could, for example:

• Streamline billing for health care reimbursement costs, to create an estimated $10 million a year in new revenue – revenue that does not include new taxes.

• Publish the county’s checkbook online so the public can see how their money is spent.

• Create a variety of online citizen-centric dashboards to display county economic indicators, performance measures and community statistics.

People should know how their government is performing, if it’s achieving its goals, and at what cost.

It goes without saying that the public sector will continue to have fewer resources in the future. Today’s dollar will turn into $0.80 tomorrow. Rather than scaling back, we need to figure out how to get $1.20’s worth of value from that 80 cents. Some ideas include:

 Recalibrating county departments to offer a suite of “one-stops” – integrated service centers that allow for a systems approach to issues like health care, human service and criminal justice;

 Looking at county operations to determine where duplicative services might be consolidated; and

 Exploring the possibility of blending certain county functions with high performing non-profits.

The important question is – if we want county government to be more nimble and effective – what does that look like and how do we get from here to there?

As I look to 2013, I am especially energized about the projects that soon will start in North Fair Oaks. This unincorporated area of nearly 20,000 people is our responsibility and I get that we must now roll up our sleeves and solve the many nagging neighborhood problems and improve the quality of life for those who live there.

My initial steps will be to:

 Work to get internal county support for moving the North Fair Oaks Plan forward. In order make progress we need dedicated county resources to get things done. We must put in place a “whole government system” for delivering solutions and services to North Fair Oaks.

 Include more people from the community in shaping the changes ahead. I will work closely with the North Fair Oaks Municipal Advisory Council, community leaders,businesses and residents.  I will support project-based opportunities to encourage creativity and wider participation.

 Practice accessibility and accountability by holding regular office hours. I will also undertake merchant walks, neighborhood conversations and community meetings. These will be face to face opportunities but in parallel we will also use technology to increase accessibility and promote accountability.  

The community deserves these improvements – and many more.

I want to underscore that the transformation of this community will be a step by step process that will require time and patience. In the future, however, we should be able to look back and see that real and sustainable progress has been made.

My predecessor, Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson, served District 4 and San Mateo County for 14 years. During that time she has been a courageous voice for those who need a helping hand. It’s personally important to me to continue her work. And in that tradition, I plan to use my appointments to Boards and Commissions to make them more reflective of the diversity of the 4th District.

One of the main reasons for my enthusiasm in taking on this new role in County government is the opportunity to serve with the current members of the Board of Supervisors. I appreciate the fiscal discipline the Board has demonstrated and I am honored to join the fight to create a sustainable county budget. I believe they share my view that now is not the time to pull back on the throttle, instead we need to complete this process.

President of the Board Adrienne Tissier, has a long history as a council-member and Mayor in Daly City. She brings many years of leadership on the county’s toughest issues and her calm, thoughtful demeanor and solid judgement has earned the respect of everyone who has worked with her.

Supervisor Carole Groom worked for many years in the health-care world. Beyond that she has been a leader in a variety of initiatives. She is a former council member and Mayor from San Mateo and proven that she is willing and able to make the tough decisions and take on the good fight.

Supervisor Dave Pine was successful in the hi-tech world, then ran for the State Assembly. He didn’t win, but rather than giving up he decided he could make a difference in education. He ran for the School Board and became a leading voice on education issues in the county. As Supervisor he brings a unique perspective to county government.

Supervisor Don Horsley was elected Sheriff in 1992. At that time East Palo Alto was the murder-capitol of the United States. Rather than giving into long standing territorial issues, he stepped up and committed a large contingent of deputies that helped bring stability to the city providing them the time to build a vital and independent community. He brings this kind of leadership to the Board.

And finally, President Roosevelt once said, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure…than to rank with the poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
This board has made the tough decisions and they have had the courage to dare many mighty things.

I believe in this group and I am convinced that we can build upon their amazing work and spearhead the opportunity to lead San Mateo County into this “New Era.”  

The simple truth is that we all believe government can be better – let’s work together to usher in this new era.

Thank you and goodnight.

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