Oscar Villegas: from council to county
FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 12, 2014 —
By Steve Marschke
The office of Governor Jerry Brown announced Friday that he has appointed Oscar E. Villegas to fill the remaining term as the District 1 representative to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.
That board seat was vacated in December by longtime supervisor Michael McGowan, after McGowan accepted the governor’s appointment to a special position in the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Villegas, 47, has been on the West Sacramento City Council since 2000. He has been a field representative for the California Board of State and Community Corrections since 2008.
Among other applicants for the vacancy on the Board of Supervisors was fellow city council member Bill Kristoff, who has served on the council since its inception in 1987.
Villegas told the News-Ledger he hasn’t heard yet when he will begin service on the board. When he sworn in, he will vacate his current city council seat (its term ends in 2016 and the council has yet to take up a discussion of how to fill the remaining part of the term).
“For me, I really feel like it’s the perfect fit,” Villegas said of the seat on the county board of supervisors. “My experience growing up in West Sacramento, my work on the planning commission and city council, and my professional day job working with probation agencies, social service agencies and other agencies all made it look like this role was the perfect fit.”
Villegas’s “day job” is with California’s Board of State and Community Corrections.
“We administer state and federal grants to local municipalities and nonprofit organizations to help those who are going to be released or who are at the risk of being incarcerated,” he said. The grants are intended to help steer people away from a life of crime or give them a “soft landing” back into society when they come out of jail or prison.
Villegas said he will switch to part-time work for the state when he takes the full-time position as county supervisor.
Does he view the county and its government as something that needs “fixing”?
“If you’d asked me that ten years ago, I would have said there were major issues,” Villegas answered. “But Mike McGowan has paved the way for a wonderful relationship between the city and county, and it’s up to me to maintain the relationship.”
Following the recession, he said, “the county is emerging in good shape, and the city is as well.”
He said he hopes to become involved in public safety issues within Yolo County, and also to help the county follow the West Sacramento city council’s disciplined practice of pursuing strategic goals. He called that “focused leadership.”
“We’ve been very fortunate in West Sacramento to have this focused leadership,” he remarked. “I can bring my experience with me. . . We say, ‘here’s where we need to go, and how do we ensure staff has the resources to get it done? How do we stay out of the way and not micromanage?’”
Villegas will fill the remainder of McGowan’s term, which is scheduled to end in December. The seat is up for election in the June primary, and Villegas intends to run for reelection.
Does he have higher political ambitions?
“Right now, I just want to focus on the task at hand,” he answered. “I don’t have the ambitions at this time for something else.”
Villegas’s appointment drew praise from other local leaders. The Sacramento Bee quoted Mayor Christopher Cabaldon as predicting he will be a “terrific asset” to the board, and said Supervisor Matt Rexroad called Villegas a “first round draft choice.”
State Senator Lois Wolk, in a press release, said she could think of “nobody better suited than Oscar Villegas” to replace McGowan on the Yolo board:
“He is a homegrown leader who cares deeply about his community and has the skills and good working relationships in the region that will enable him to come to the Board of Supervisors and immediately get to work,” added Wolk.
Villegas’s wife, Katie, is on the local school board and serves as executive director of the Yolo County Children’s Alliance, a nonprofit organization.
The county supervisor position pays $59,004 annually, reports the governor’s office. District 1 serves Clarksburg and most of West Sacramento – excluding a slice of the “Bryte” neighborhood in the city’s northwest.
Villegas is a Southport resident who grew up in the city’s north. Like Governor Brown and former supervisor McGowan, Villegas is a Democrat. Do you like what you see here?
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