Thank you, Maria, for the warm introduction. I would personally like to thank you and the Tracy Chamber of Commerce for your help in arranging the State of the County address and for the Chamber’s support to the business community.
I further would like to thank The Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, Nichole Lee, Deacon Ryza, President Callahan, Carissa Lucas from the City of Tracy, Scott Tyrell, San Joaquin County ISD, County staff, the Grand Theater, the caterers, our A/V folks, our sponsors, and everyone who made the day possible.
It’s always a humbling experience to be on this stage. I have delivered 4 State of the City addresses here when I was mayor and now I have the honor to deliver my first State of the County address on the Grand Theatre Stage. The Grand Theatre
is the crown jewel of Tracy, and we are celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. I appreciate each and every one of you for taking the time to hear about our county’s accomplishments, our vision for the future, and our broad economic
outlook from our guest speaker-UOP President Christopher Callahan.
As Chairman, this year I brought the State of the County to Tracy, District 5. As we say in the county, 5th District, best District. This is the first year that it has been outside of the Board of Supervisors Chambers. The
th district incorporates Mountain House, Tracy, Escalon, Ripon, and unincorporated San Joaquin County. Tracy is my hometown, the place I was born and raised. The love I have for my hometown, the pride of being a resident here, we learned
it from our family, our neighborhood, our community, and in our schools. This town is something special, as are all our hometowns. But we can all agree that the 5th District has the best high school sport teams. Here in San Joaquin
County, we are special in the way we come together in a time of crisis, the way we come together in time of celebration, and the way we come together to get things done.
And now to the main event.
Members of the Board, staff, residents and friends of San Joaquin County, welcome to our 2023 State of the County. I am honored to be here with you today as Chair of the Board and the Supervisor for District 5, and grateful for the opportunity to serve
you as a steward of what I believe is among the most beautiful, innovative, productive and welcoming counties in California.
San Joaquin County is truly: A Place to Thrive and A Place Where Greatness Grows.
As the Chairman, I’m 1 person on a team of 5, and I would like to take this opportunity to formally introduce my colleagues:
Together, we are working for you- the County at large. I believe we are an aggressive and forward-thinking board that is highly invested in making San Joaquin County the most prosperous community that it can be. I would also like to recognize our
County Administrator, Jay Wilverding, for his steadfast dedication to fiscal solvency in partnership with our Board.
Now I would like to recognize the dignitaries that are with us today.
I would also like to recognize our county leaders in attendance. These senior leaders implement the policy and vision of the board, and work very hard to ensure our county operates efficiently.
I would also like to thank my wife Karen who has continued to make me a better father and husband. Karen still looks the same, she doesn’t appear to age. I wish I could say the same about myself.
I would also like to recognize my parents, Leroy and Belmida.
I cannot begin this annual address without reflecting on the challenges we as a County, state and nation have faced in recent years. While thankfully we emerged from the crisis of a global pandemic, the experience we endured collectively has impacted each one of us.
From loved ones lost, to local businesses forced to shutter, to an epidemic of isolation and mental health impacts, to educational and social setbacks, we naturally want to put that chapter behind us.
But let’s not forget that these times of adversity can make us stronger, more connected and determined.
The Board adopted a new set of Strategic Priorities through 2025. As an elected governing body these priorities guide our financial investments, initiatives and the provision of services. The six priorities are:
Today I’d like to provide you with an overview of some of the many accomplishments of the past fiscal year. Governing and managing a County the size of San Joaquin - with its 790,000 residents over 1,426 square miles, with seven cities - Escalon,
Lathrop, Lodi, Manteca, Ripon, Stockton and Tracy - and including 35 square miles of ecologically and economically critical waterways - requires the work of nearly 8,000 employees throughout 26 departments and agencies.
On a side note, just recently on Sept 14th, LAFCO unanimously approved Mountain House’s application for Incorporation. So, on March 5, 2024, the residents of Mountain House will vote to decide if Mountain House becomes the newest city in CA.
and the 8th city in San Joaquin County.
We are the 14th largest County in California and the heartland of our great State.
Our employees, departments, agencies and elected officials focus on delivering the highest quality, most responsive governance and services possible by focusing our efforts on clear, strategic priorities.
I want to share some shining examples of how we have put these priorities into concrete action garnering great results – because they each deserve to be highlighted and celebrated.
Among our most important priorities is delivering a Structurally Balanced Budget. Each department in the County is responsible for producing a sound and responsible budget that also seeks to leverage resources to ensure accountability to taxpayers, grantors
and investors. In fact, Standard & Poor’s recently upgraded the County’s credit rating from A+ to AA-, demonstrating our County’s commitment to fiscal responsibility.
I’m pleased to report that the fiscal state of our County is as strong as ever. This past June, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $2.59 billion structurally balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2023-2024.
The budget reflects an increase of $370.8 million when compared to last year’s budget.
As you might imagine, this multi-billion-dollar budget doesn’t happen overnight. Many hours of hard work and collaboration were spent by the County’s dedicated employees and executives to develop this spending plan. On behalf of the Board,
we extend our sincere gratitude for their efforts.
Here are some actions taken by our departments to identify funding sources to help pay for critical services and programs:
The Department of Public Works had a windfall in grant funding this past year:
Our departments are constantly searching for funding opportunities to enhance services for County residents.
Turning to Organizational Capacity/Technology Utilization. When the Board enacted this strategic priority, we did so with the intention of:
Here's a few examples:
And I want to take this opportunity to say to all of you: SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY IS HIRING among all Departments and all levels. Check out our newly updated website. We’d be happy to have you join the County team.
I want to talk a little bit about the outstanding quality of life here in San Joaquin County. Every decision we make is intended to increase the quality of life for our residents through accountability, transparency, responsiveness, equity, and effectiveness. It’s what makes us a Place to Thrive. While that means different things to different people, as a community and society there are certain support systems, services and comforts that the County provides that residents rely on to make day-to-day life better. Here are just a few examples during 2022-2023:
Established an Elections Advisory Committee of local residents to incorporate voter input into how the Registrar of Voters can best serve the community.
Began construction upgrades to the former In Shape building for County Law and Justice offices.
Opened the Jack J. Williams, M.D. Public Health Building. This phase one project provides a new administration building and lab facilities.
Commenced a Master Service Agreement with Dignity Health that is resulting in clinical, operational, and fiscal best practices at San Joaquin General Hospital.
Allocated $74 million for housing, veterans, behavioral health, and illegal dumping prevention.
Allocated more than $2.5 million to pay for facility repairs, upgrades and equipment purchases at six local Veterans Service Organizations.
We allotted $2 million to UOP for capital renovations of Manor Hall for Military and Student Veteran Services
As well as one million in total matching funds for the Delta College Student Career Internship Program
We also launched the SEE IT, REPORT IT, STOP IT public outreach campaign to reduce illegal dumping in the County. And just a little PSA. if YOU see illegal dumping either report it using the My San Joaquin App or call County Public Works.
I'd like to turn our focus on an issue that is currently the most pressing in our County: Homelessness.
This is a humanitarian emergency for California, and a cost of living, mental health, public health & safety, and substance abuse crises. I am confident that working together and working locally, we can make significant progress, look at its root
and broad causes and decrease this homeless crisis in the long term.
Let me be blunt. The housing first model doesn’t work! This state has spent billions of dollars on this model and the problem has only gotten worse.
Therefore, we cannot view the issue just as one of housing; that’s only one component of the overall issue. People experience homelessness for a variety of reasons including substance abuse, serious mental illness, a lack of available resources,
and personal accountability. As a law enforcement officer for the better part of two decades, I have seen these issues firsthand.
We have to look at this crisis holistically and regionally. As a result, the Board has invested in diverse solutions to address the crisis of thousands of unhoused residents.
In the past two years alone, San Joaquin County invested nearly $200 million for Countywide projects ranging from permanent supportive housing, emergency shelter, responding to calls for service to the unhoused, hospital treatment, and enhanced care
management. These investments will result in the addition of over 700 new units of permanent supportive housing and increase shelter capacity Countywide by 166 percent.
Here are a few examples of what we have accomplished:
We celebrated the remodel of the Women’s Recuperative Care Center through our Housing Authority along with Gospel Center Rescue Mission.
And now moving to a subject that is personal, and close to my heart – public safety. The first priority of government is to keep our citizens safe. For close to 28 years, I have worked as a sergeant for the CHP and have worked in every city in San Joaquin County. I have devoted my life to public safety. With that being said, I want to thank those in law enforcement and fire for being here today: Our police, sheriff’s, CHP, fire personnel, DA staff and the Probation Department. Thank you for all that you do and the sacrifices you make each day to keep the public and our communities safe. We owe you a debt of gratitude. I speak on behalf of the Board when I say that we support you all and the great job you do.
A few highlights to report from our departments that oversee Public Safety:
The County committed more than $12 million in ARPA funding to 16 fire districts for everything from staffing ambulance dispatch centers, ambulances, and other vehicles, to watercraft, training centers, and radios.
A vital economy keeps our County moving forward, growing, and innovating.
Significant business incentives and economic development opportunities allow the County to continue its smart growth, and further position itself as a highly attractive location for employers to expand and invest.
Employment growth has been dominated by an expansion in the transportation and warehousing sectors. The San Joaquin County industrial real estate market is one of the region’s key economic assets, based on its strategic location, and numerous transportation networks.
Approximately 32.4 million square feet of new industrial space was constructed between 2018 and June 2023, with about 10 million square feet of additional space currently under construction.
We pride ourselves on attracting major employers–and top taxpayers–like Amazon. They recently opened a new 3.5 million square foot facility in Tracy, increasing Amazon’s total combined footprint in Manteca, Stockton and Tracy to more than 8 million square feet.
Tesla opened its megafactory in Lathrop last year – the company’s fifth facility in San Joaquin County - with 650 employees in that facility alone. There are 2,220 Tesla employees between the megafactory and Tesla’s other electric vehicle parts manufacturing/logistics facilities in Lathrop.
And despite rising interest rates, the housing market in San Joaquin County continues to grow with an average home value over $530,000.
Mountain House, River Islands, Tracy Hills, Ellis, and other housing developments, will add thousands of additional housing units over time. In addition, a number of multi-family and affordable housing projects have been completed or are under construction. These are critical to easing the housing crisis for many working families.
San Joaquin’s gross value of agricultural production increased by 5.34%, to $3.2 billion in 2021 with agricultural commodities exported to 94 countries!
The Stockton Port is also having record success with their second busiest year ever including 278 vessel calls transporting nearly 4.5 million tons of cargo to and from locations worldwide. The Port provides over 10,000 jobs, generates $1.6 billion in economic activity, and nearly $78 million in state and local taxes annually.
And big plans are underway to improve the Stockton Airport. Our airport is currently expanding their cargo ramp space and conducting pavement rehabilitation of their taxilanes to attract prospective cargo operators, increase flight services, and contribute to the region’s economic development.
The tourism and hospitality sector in San Joaquin County continues to experience significant growth. 6 major hotel brands have been constructed or are under construction in cities throughout the county.
Just a quick update on Airpark 599, a master-planned logistics park on 275 acres of County-owned land adjacent to the Stockton Airport and Highway 99 in Stockton. As a hub for all major markets in Northern California, Airpark 599 will add 3.47 million square feet of Class A space suitable for e-commerce fulfillment, distribution, or advanced manufacturing while improving area infrastructure and bringing new jobs to a large, skilled workforce. In fact,
Target Corporation has entered into a lease of a 1.4 million square foot logistics facility currently under construction on about 112 acres. Planned occupancy is in the third quarter of 2023-2024 and Target will hire approximately 2,500 employees, with seasonal fluctuations.
And I want to take a moment to acknowledge our Employment and Economic Development Department, or E2D2, as well as our Economic Development Association for their efforts to provide jobs, workforce training, and funding to local businesses.
They assisted 2,690 participants with job search services and provided nearly $4 million in grants and loans to small businesses throughout the County.
To date, they’ve administered over $8 million through the Relief Across Downtown program to help businesses impacted by the pandemic.
And finally, turning to water. San Joaquin County’s defining waterways - comprising the San Joaquin Delta which is the hub of California’s water supply, rivers and estuaries - are our most valuable natural resource. Protecting and managing that resource is critical.
The past year showed us that nature remains unpredictable and powerful. After a decade of severe drought, the winter storms of late 2022 through spring 2023 brought a torrent of water that threatened, and in many cases destroyed or damaged property.
However, our County’s emergency response was swift and prepared, mitigating impacts significantly and kept residents informed of changing conditions and evacuation plans, when necessary.
On March 28, the Board directed staff to facilitate the transition of OES back to a stand-alone department. reporting directly to the Board instead of General Services. The Chair of the Board of Supervisors will serve as the Director of Emergency Services and the new Office of Emergency Services Department head will be reclassified as Director of Emergency Operations.
We are actively preparing for the next flood event. In fact, we purchased three drones to assist engineers in spotting potential levee vulnerabilities using thermal imaging to identify seepage and boils.
I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the County’s efforts to defeat the Delta Tunnel Conveyance Project. The County has been fighting various forms of this tunnel battle, that would ship the Delta’s water south, for nearly 15 years and we aren't going to stop until the proposed project is dead in the water.
This summer, the County, in partnership with the Delta Counties Coalition and our State and Federal legislative delegations defeated the Governor’s sneaky proposal to ease environmental rules and expedite the highly controversial and outrageously
expensive conveyance project. I want to thank Supervisor Patti and Ding for their leadership efforts in putting an end to this disastrous project that would devastate the precious Delta environment and its 4 million residents.
I hope that I’ve been able to remind you of the reasons we enjoy such a wonderful quality of life in San Joaquin County. There are thousands of people who play a large part in why we are successful and why we live in such a unique and special part of the world. All of you sitting in the fabulous Grand Theatre this morning, have contributed to that success.
This Board has covered a long distance in the last few months. I want to thank my colleagues, and our staff for your dedication and leadership. I want to thank everyone here today and the residents of San Joaquin County for your trust and confidence.
San Joaquin County has a bright future ahead. We will continue to foster a county government that is more accountable, inclusive, and accessible as well as more efficient, effective, and transparent. We will continue to break through ceilings and go farther than we have before. So, in the weeks, months, and years to come, I look forward to working together with all the Board Members, our staff, and most importantly, you, the residents and business owners, to create a great future for all San Joaquin residents. We will continue to deliver essential services and programs that make San Joaquin County a great place to live, work, and play.
As Carl Sandburg said, all we need to begin with is a dream that we can do better than before. All we need to have is faith, and that dream will come true. All we need to do is act, and the time for action is now.”