LOS ANGELES – With two new members aboard, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors convened its first meeting with a super-majority of female members Tuesday.
Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger were sworn in Monday as the newest members of the board. They replaced Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich in representing the county’s Fourth and Fifth Districts, respectively. Knabe and Antonovich termed out after a combined 56 years in office.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the board’s new chair, began the session with videotaped congratulations from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
“For the first time in history, I can’t believe it, four out of five supervisors will be women,” Feinstein said of the historic moment, recalling her own three terms as a San Francisco County supervisor.
Supervisor Hilda Solis noted that the county’s chief executive officer, Sachi Hamai, and lead county counsel, Mary Wickham, are also women and pointed to a comparison with other powerful posts.
“Women aren’t always given the privilege of serving (at) Fortune 500 companies,” Solis said.
Ridley-Thomas said the new board fulfilled the promise of democracy.
Those who didn’t have the right to vote … now constitute the super-majority of the largest county government and arguably the most powerful local elected officials in the entirety of the United States of America,” Ridley-Thomas said.
Women have shaped his life from the start, Ridley-Thomas said, from his grandmother and two older sisters to the sisters at Immaculate Heart College, his alma mater, and the students at an all-girls high school where he taught for five years.
“Let me simply say, I love my sisters,” Ridley-Thomas said.
All five supervisors were optimistic about the board’s ability to effect great change.
“This is the place where the rubber meets the road, both the executive branch and the legislative branch,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.
Hahn said it was a thrill to join the board and recalled when her father, longtime supervisor Kenneth Hahn, would let her sit in his board chair as a child.
“I’ve probably had this dream for the entirety of my life,” Hahn said, adding that she never quite believed it would come true.
Barger remembered working next door to Kenneth Hahn as a county staffer and praised his compassion as an example.
“I will always listen, my door will always be open,” Barger promised before telling her colleagues, “Let’s get on with the show.”