Debbie Arnold was sworn in as San Luis Obispo County supervisor Monday and quickly cast her first vote — against her new colleague, Bruce Gibson, being named vice chairman for 2013.
Arnold said it wasn’t Gibson’s turn to take the job, which will likely make him chairman in 2014.
However, Arnold, the new 5th District supervisor, came out on the short end of a 3-1 vote, with new chairman Paul Teixeira and Adam Hill joining Gibson.
The vote was out of sync with the festive nature of the swearing-in ceremonies, which drew well over 100 people, who lined the walls of the Board of Supervisors chambers and spilled over into an outside corridor.
Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald swore in Arnold to her first term and Hill to his second. Frank Mecham, also re-elected last year, was absent. Rodewald also swore in new Auditor-Controller Jim Erb.
Arnold’s statement came after Hill nominated Teixeira to become chairman and Gibson to become vice chairman. This is usually a routine and little-noticed procedure. The board has an informal policy of rotating the chairmanship by supervisory district, with the vice chairman traditionally becoming chairman the following year.
Arnold said she had researched this, and by her calculations it was Mecham’s turn to be chairman.
However, a look at the past five years by The Tribune shows this breakdown of who is serving or has served as chairman:
- 2013: 4th District (Teixeira)
- 2012: 5th District (Jim Patterson)
- 2011: 3rd District (Hill)
- 2010: 1st District (Mecham)
- 2009: 2nd District (Gibson)
By that pattern, the 2nd District — Gibson — would be next in line to serve as chairman in 2014, followed in succeeding years by Mecham, Hill, and Arnold.
However, Arnold said, when Gibson took over in 2009 it was actually Mecham’s turn. They switched because Mecham was new to the board. And now the board should right the previous improper sequence, she said.
Before Arnold cast her vote, two members of the audience opposed having Gibson in a leadership position, although their reasoning was different.
Joyce Albright of Los Osos and Sandy Chandler of Morro Bay said Gibson should not be given a position of authority because he had an affair with a subordinate, his legislative aide.
Arnold did not allude to Gibson’s behavior.
Apart from that mini-diversion, the day was a celebratory one, with new Supervisor Arnold receiving praise from her many supporters present. Among them were former state Sen. Sam Blakeslee and former Supervisor Mike Ryan, for whom Arnold worked.
Patterson defeated Ryan for re-election eight years ago. In his closing remarks, he called his time in office “tumultuous” because of the recession. He noted that the county has replaced 15 out of its 22 department heads in that time.
Arnold and Hill both pledged to be open-minded.
The newly constituted board has its first meeting Tuesday.