Tulare County Supervisors Say Goodbye and Hello

Pete Vander Poel, Kuyler Crocker, and Amy Shuklian are sworn in. Catherine Doe/Valley Voice

December and January was a time to say goodbye to and welcome new board members. Phil Cox said goodbye at the December 20 Tulare County Board of Supervisors (TCBOS) meeting and Allen Ishida said his goodbyes at the January 10 meeting. Cox was recently elected to the Visalia City Council and Ishida plans on kicking off his campaign for governor next month.

Amy Shuklian beat Cox for District 3 in June, and Kuyler Crocker won a long-fought battle for District 1, Ishida’s former seat, in November. Pete Vander Poel ran unopposed for District 2. All three were sworn in before the January 10 meeting officially started.

The first order of business was to elect a new Chair and Vice Chair. Shuklian nominated Vander Poel as Chair and Steve Worthley as Vice Chair. In Vander Poel’s usual jovial manner, he seconded the motion to the applause and laughs from the audience. This will be Vander Poel’s second stint as Chair. He added that he will be inheriting a severely dented gavel as his predecessor, Supervisor Mike Ennis, liked to bang the gavel. Vander Poel said that he’d like to say that Ennis shepherded the county through tough times but that it’s always great in Tulare County.

Crocker and Shuklian were the first to speak during the Supervisor Matters part of the meeting by thanking their families. Crocker added that the election was a grueling process and wanted to thank his family for all their hard work. “Water, jobs, and public safety is what I campaigned on and if all this rain didn’t prove that we need more storage – well that’s what I’m fighting for.”

Shuklian joked that she missed the memo that “everyone was supposed to wear ties this morning.” She then thanked her long time partner, Mary, for being there during her nine years on the Visalia City Council and supporting her being on the TCBOS. Several members of the Visalia City staff with whom Shuklian worked as a council member were also at the supervisor’s meeting to support Shuklian in her new job.

She added that she already started working last week, getting to know the county department heads and setting up her office. She said she feels blessed to be representing the same district where her father was born and where her brother still farms.

Pete Vander Poel celebrates being sworn in with his family. Catherine Doe/Valley Voice

Vander Poel said of his last eight years on the board that he has lost hair but gained a wife and two kids. Worthley kidded that Vander Poel would no longer going be able to use the joke, “I wasn’t even born yet” because he is no longer the youngest on the board. Ennis said, to a look of consternation from Crocker, that the current youngest member of the board is known as “Baby Croc” on the radio station K-Tip.

Ishida was the last to speak during Supervisor Matters part of the meeting. He started out by saying that “nothing is forever and that everyone is replaceable.” He said that when he was elected he didn’t look at himself as a public servant, because he dislikes that term, but rather that he was “elected to do a job and do it well.”

Ishida expressed his amazement about how much the board accomplished over the 12 years that he was a member. “I have worked for the Federal Government and they move much slower, I mean decades.” Ishida then listed off an impressive list of accomplishments, including the Tulare County Water Commission that has brought millions to the community to improve infrastructure and the county’s creating its own Information Technology Department instead of contracting it out.

Ishida said that Tulare County has no long term debt except for its retirement program.

“I can count on one hand how many counties are in the same position,” Ishida said.

He ended his comments by saying how everyone recognized how important the county employees are and to thank the entire board for working together.

“This is the only job I’ve ever had next to farming. This old person isn’t going out to pasture but to the orange grove.”

That is until the start of his governor’s campaign.

Phil Cox Says Goodbye at the Dec. 20 Meeting

During the Dec. 20 supervisor meeting Cox echoed many of the same sentiments as Ishida in his farewell speech. He is most proud of the Step Up Program and Measure R, both of which he was instrumental in making happen. He said that he met Ishida 13 years ago on the campaign trail and they were both disenchanted with the level of customer service given when dealing with the county.

Cox said the he and Ishida made it a priority to make the county more customer-friendly and that once the supervisors got the ball rolling the Resource Management Agency lead the way. He said that people love to do business with the county now whereas before no one wanted to go through the process of getting a building permit. He also added that since Measure R passed that it has seeded the money for a billion dollars worth of projects in the county.

Cox ended by saying that he has tried to live by the motto that we can build miles of roads, and construct buildings, but unless you build better communities for the people and the next generation then you have done nothing.

Worthley said that when Ishida and Cox came on the board they were fully prepared in mind and soul and moved the county forward. “They came in as strangers but are leaving as friends and I will miss their friendship.”

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