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Op-Ed

Five priorities guide county supervisors in 2019

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During the 2019 State of the County, I shared how San Joaquin County is enhancing our community and improving lives. County government is responsible for vital services like road improvements, social services, public safety, and helping support a strong business and economic environment. In San Joaquin County, we are guided by five strategic priorities that serve as a road map for making sound long-term decisions and investments.

Fiscal responsibility

Maintaining a structurally balanced budget and identifying and investing resources to provide services and programs is vital to our residents. The board approved its fourth consecutive structurally balanced budget which maintains healthy reserves. The financially sound decisions we’ve made over the past several years will serve us well in the event of an economic downturn, while providing for vital services and programs today and into the future.

Good governance

This is what links local government to its residents and ensures that we are being accountable and transparent and that our decisions reflect community concerns. Together, we work to ensure that county tax revenues and investments are well managed, that our critical information systems are protected, that youth and families have needed resources, and that the community can provide input on important issues. Some examples of good governance include:

 Approximately $30 million in grants and funding have been designated to increase mental health services and mental health treatment programs and reduce homelessness.

 A new public health facility will be constructed to handle critical services and needs of our community.

 San Joaquin General Hospital’s new Acute Care Patient Wing will open this summer with 25 beds for newborns who need intensive care and 20 rooms for medical and surgical patients.

 We are addressing illegal dumping on our roadsides and waterways by adding code enforcement staff, initiating a robust Adopt-A-Road program and organizing numerous countywide community cleanups.

Public safety

Criminal justice is not only about enforcing laws and determining consequences; it’s also about helping people make positive choices in their lives and giving them the opportunity to be productive members of their communities. To do this, criminal justice and public safety are working together in partnerships around the county to keep our community safe. Here are a few highlights:

 A thousand community members have joined the Safe Neighborhoods ONE Project, which has reduced crime and improved the quality of life for residents.

 The sheriff’s department has now uses drones in SWAT and high-risk search warrants and for search-and-rescue efforts.

 The Community Car Program is being enhanced to stop criminal activity at the street level in more communities.

Economic development

This includes attracting and retaining businesses and industries that provide good jobs and support sustainable economic growth. We’ve seen great results:

 The county boasted 3 percent employment growth in 2018.

 Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global supplier of genetic testing and precision lab equipment, recently opened its distribution center in Tracy.

 Amazon plans to open a second fulfilment center in Stockton, which will create up to 1,000 new jobs.

 Wayfair recently leased 1.1 million square feet in Lathrop.

 Tesla will be occupying its second building in Lathrop, totaling 870,000 square feet.

Additionally, our transportation system is attractive to companies looking to expand. The Port of Stockton employs more than 10,000 people; the Stockton Metropolitan Airport served 80,000 passengers and handled more than 40,000 tons of air cargo last year; our freeway system connects this region to all corners of the state; and beginning in August, the Stockton Metropolitan Airport will offer twice-daily service to LAX with United Airlines.

Water management

Protecting the Delta and our vital water resources is critical in supporting the needs of residents, businesses, and our $2.5 billion agricultural industry.

County departments work together to address water quality and quantity, governance, land use, flood management, agriculture, local water rights, community benefits, the economy and the environment. The county received nearly $11 million in state grants last year to help address many of these issues.

We also maintain strong partnerships to advocate for cost-effective, water-producing alternatives to any tunnel system that would threaten the Delta, which encompasses about a third of the county’s total land and sustains an abundance of wildlife, natural beauty, and commercial and recreational opportunities. We look forward to working with the new governor on fair and long-lasting statewide solutions.

As we look to the coming year and beyond, I believe that it will become even more important that we work together, help each other, and solve problems and provide opportunities for all San Joaquin County residents to provide an equal chance for a good quality of life..

San Joaquin County Supervisor Miguel Villapudua is the current chair of the board of supervisors and represents District 1, which encompasses southern Stockton, French Camp and rural areas east of Highway 99

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