The County Voice

Ground Truth

Ground Truth

The following blog post is an edited transcript of remarks given by Supervisor Gore following the Induction of Officers during CSAC’s 126th Annual Meeting. 

 

Colleagues, peers, friends. We’ve got a hell of a lot of work to do.

I think about this a lot, and I can’t help but realize that the inactions of yesteryear have brought us to this crazy fulcrum point or inflection point in our society.

For those of you who follow this, inflection points are moments of extreme, omnipresent change and challenge. In my case, like many of you, this has come with drought, floods, fires, homelessness, a lack of affordable housing, crumbling infrastructure, budget shortfalls, behavioral health spikes and more.

And then, ensuring justice is fair and embracing diversity, equity and inclusion— not just as a moniker, but as a real ethos.

And then, add on top of all of that, a global pandemic that exacerbates all of these issues and lights them all on fire. Taking issues in our community that were hairline fractures and turning them into full chord breaks. In Sonoma County, my colleagues and I have by recent count had at least eight declared disasters in six years. This doesn’t include the homelessness crisis, this doesn’t include the lightning blast, this doesn’t include all of the other things that we deal with, like you all, each and every day.

But at the same time. I love my home.

I love what you see behind me—the vineyards from the top of Healdsburg Ridge, the Russian River off to the side.

I find my solace here, I find my roots connected here. It’s not just where the rubber hits the road. It’s where my feet touch down into the earth. And I’m inspired by that each and every day.

But like you all as well, I think my real home is not just the landscape. My home is my family. Elizabeth, Opal and Jacob. My mother Geralyn, and up in the sky is my grandmother Virginia.

These unbelievable women have made me who I am, as much as my dad taught me to be a roughneck, hunt and fish and be a bruiser.

I get the chills when I say this— these women are my heart and soul, and my purpose in life.

It’s not ironic that when I joined the CSAC officer corps, I joined three powerful, strong compassionate, women.

Virginia Bass. Lisa Bartlett, Leticia Perez.

I learned from them each and every day—when to shut my trap and also when to make noise— because we’ve got to make noise.

I think about our current board. I’m surrounded by Ed Valenzuela, our 1st Vice President, a strong longtime member of the Latino Caucus that embraced this gringo to be a member of their board. Supervisor Chuck Washington, a champion of all things we are talking about; how to strive forward in these times, make equity not a brand, make diversity not a tolerance issue, but make it a core vision going forward. And I think about Lisa Bartlett. I’ve heard your stories, your history, your family.

This is not a surprise. We did not reach this level of diversity in leadership at CSAC by common place or chance; by quotas or anything else. It’s been through work in different areas like the Women’s Leadership Forum, the Latino Caucus, and Regional efforts that we embrace and say, “Let’s bring it on.” Let’s make sure that this platform is one that’s accessible for everybody, and give them an opportunity to thrive.

Yes.

We are at an inflection point. And we have so many challenges around us.

But inflection points also bring opportunity.

And as one person told me in the aftermath of our 2017 fires, our first cataclysmic event, there’s something called the availability heuristic. This is a socio-psychological effect where in a time of disruption, people will let you pursue dramatic change, but only for a limited time before status quo pulls it back in and atrophies that feeling.

So, this is our time.

Some of you know that I have a pet peeve word, and I use it every once in a while and people call me out. It’s the word “concerned.”

I find myself surrounded by people who anytime a new idea comes up, whether it’s in county government or elsewhere, they fall back on the word concerned. The reason I don’t like the word concerned is because it is a way to not oppose something as an ideal or standpoint, but to oppose it in action.

I’m not concerned about equity, but I’m concerned about the amount of budget we need to put into it. I’m not concerned about addressing the wildfires, but I’m concerned about this plan to do it.

You know, this leads right into my philosophy of GSD…Get Stuff Done…each and every day because I feel that, as I said before, the actions of yesteryear have put us in a position where it’s our time to act.

Some of you know me for this whole moniker of GSD. But I’ll give you another one, and this is the mantra for this year: Ground Truth. There’s a lot going on, a lot of policies are being made. A lot of people in our communities are frustrated with us. A lot of us are frustrated with what’s going on at the state or the federal level or in other counties and they’re trying to pit us against each other. A lot of policies are being devised through Zoom without a lot of Ground Truth. That is our mandate this year, to take action and embed Ground Truth into everything that is going on.

I want you to join me.

I want you to join us. I want to join you in action, and in Ground Truth this year.

And as I said before, we’ve got so much work to do.

But in the beautiful words of a poet June Jordan, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

I don’t care if you’re a new Supervisor, if you’ve been here for 20 years. Now is our time. Disruption is everywhere. We can do this. It has to start with us.

Thank you so much. I’ll do my best.

I pledge to you my effort. My partnership. And even though I like to make noise, I pledge not to take all the oxygen out of the room, but rather, make sure that this place, that this institution, that us as officers, that we set this up as a platform for your voice.

Thank you so much.

2021. Let’s turn this calendar forward. Onward.

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