Fletcher Lays Out ‘New Progressive Agenda’ In State Of The County Speech
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Credit: County of San Diego
Chair of San Diego County Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher laid out a “new progressive agenda” to address the many challenges facing the county in his first state of the county address Thursday.
The 40-minute speech, delivered from the county’s emergency medical operations center, touched on a wide range of issues including organized labor, racial justice, environmental protection and immigrant rights — all areas where he and his newly elected colleagues plan to set new, reform-minded policies.
But Fletcher, who was elected to the board in 2018 and became its chair last month, dedicated the meat of his speech to the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, he touted the more than 3.3 million free COVID-19 tests administered at 37 public testing sites.
Yet he also acknowledged the county's efforts have fallen short: San Diego was not immune to the recent national surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths and most schools remain closed.
"We’re delivering over $300 million dollars in economic aid to families, small businesses and nonprofits," Fletcher said. "Yet it didn’t stop the pain. It's barely softened the blow."
Last November, Democrats secured their first majority on the board of supervisors in recent memory with the electoral victories of Supervisors Nora Vargas and Terra Lawson-Remer. Vargas replaced a termed-out Republican while Lawson-Remer unseated a one-term Republican incumbent.
Fletcher made a handful of policy announcements that made it clear Democrats would be flexing their newfound muscle on the board. They included proposals for ordinances mandating higher wages for companies that contract with the county government and requiring some businesses to give workers laid off during the pandemic first dibs on their jobs when they come back.
He also said he would establish new offices and departments at the county to promote the local film industry, coordinate homelessness outreach, enforce labor laws and support immigrants and refugees.
Among the more noteworthy announcements was an agreement with Sheriff Bill Gore, a Republican, to reverse course on a recent effort to privatize health care in the county's jail system.
"Sheriff Gore will put a stop to the expansion of outsourcing healthcare," Fletcher said. "Together we will seek a significant increase in the number of county health nurses, county mental health professionals and county drug treatment providers in our jails."
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