He was sworn in by Rep Jeff Denham, who represents most of Tracy in Congress as part of the 10th District, and his wife, Debbie, who held a Bible below her husband’s left hand during the ceremony.
The 63-year-old won a four-year term to the county’s governing board by defeating Tracy Planning Commissioner Rhodesia Ransom in the Nov. 6 general election.
He resigned from his seat on the Tracy City Council on Dec. 18 to take the county position.
“My obligation is to my constituents — my only obligation is to represent them the very best that I can,” Elliott said to a packed room after reciting the oath.
The retired U.S. Army colonel thanked his supporters during the ceremony in the supervisors’ chambers in the county administration building in Stockton that transferred the 5th District seat to Elliott from 68-year-old Leroy Ornellas.
For 10 years, Ornellas represented the 5th District, which includes Tracy, Mountain House and parts of Manteca. He was unable to run for another term in 2012 because of term limits.
Before his successor was sworn in, Ornellas discussed the challenges facing the county’s elected leaders in the coming year.
He specifically mentioned that San Joaquin General Hospital — which costs the county millions of dollars a year — could be shut down if its oldest tower cannot be efficiently rebuilt or operations made to cost less.
While the county has obligations to provide certain resources, Ornellas said those resources don’t necessarily have to be administered through a hospital.
“No one ever says that, but I’m leaving, so I can,” Ornellas said. “We cannot continue to lose the dollars we’re losing.”
The Tracy-area dairyman also said supervisors must soon decide whether to pursue a county jail expansion that could cost $40 million a year to operate once built.
Supervisors will also contend with finishing the general plan and negotiating a contract with the Service Employee International Union, which Ornellas said represents more than 2,000 county employees.
Ornellas called the union contract “critical to the future of the county.”
Following the ceremony, Elliott said keeping the hospital open is important, but it needs to be less of a drain on county finances.
“What I’d like to see is a way to make the hospital more self-sufficient,” he said. “I think it performs a valuable service for the people of San Joaquin County.”
As part of the solution, Elliott pointed to efforts already under way at San Joaquin General, including a new leadership structure and a focus on specialties that will draw more insured patients to the hospital.
He also voiced support for a jail expansion and said he hoped to achieve enough “efficiencies” within the county to pay for its hefty operational price tag.
“That’ll be the challenge,” he said.
During the ceremony, the former Tracy councilman promised to follow through on the “priorities and values” he espoused during the campaign — fiscal responsibility, public safety, agriculture and economic development.
Elliott was sworn in along with Steve Bestolarides and Carlos Villapudua, who both won re-election in November.
The board voted unanimously to make Elliott its vice chairman. Ken Vogel, who represents the 4th District, was named successor to Bestolarides, the outgoing chairman.
According to Clerk of the Board Lori Sahyoun, the chairman position rotates among the supervisors and is selected at the start of every year.
The new board’s first regular meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, at the county administration building, 44 N. San Joaquin St., in Stockton.
• See this story in Friday’s print edition of the Tracy Press.
• Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
• WHAT: San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors special meeting
• WHEN: 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 7
• WHERE: Supervisors chambers, county administration building, 44 N. San Joaquin St., in Stockton
• DETAILS: Chairman Ken Vogel, Vice-Chairman Bob Elliott and supervisors Carlos Villapudua, Larry Rhustaller and Steve Bestolarides were present.