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Sonoma County elected officials sworn in

The County of Sonoma's newly elected officials and several returning veterans were sworn into office Tuesday in a series of quick ceremonial oaths administered before the start of the year's first Board of Supervisors meeting.

Incoming supervisors Mike McGuire and David Rabbitt, like others, marked the occasion with family members looking on in the board's packed chambers.

Laughter, tears and applause accompanied the oaths, which also were administered to Sheriff Steve Freitas and District Attorney Jill Ravitch, both of whom were elected to office for the first time in November, and to the newly appointed County Counsel, Bruce Goldstein.

McGuire, who took over the north county seat held for 16 years by Paul Kelley, had perhaps the morning's most unscripted moment. Newly married, the 31-year old supervisor held his wife Erika's hand as she read his oath. They stumbled over the words and appeared to tear up a bit before sealing the ceremony with a kiss.

Back at the dais, McGuire blushed. "Well, that went smoothly," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd of hundreds.

Rabbitt, who took his oath from Janice Atkinson, the county clerk-recorder-assessor, thanked his family for their support during a long and tightly-contested race for the south county supervisor seat, held for 12 years by Mike Kerns who, like Kelley, had not sought re-election.

Rabbitt said his father, now 87 and in attendance Monday, came to the United States along with his late mother from their native Ireland "as many people do, searching for the American dream."

"We're very proud of your decision, coming over here and starting a new life for us," Rabbitt said.

Both new supervisors said they were eager to get to work confronting the county's challenges, chief among them a general fund budget deficit of about $36 million. McGuire and Rabbitt took office at the beginning of last week after smaller, private swearing-in ceremonies. McGuire also had his oath administered at a large bash for supporters and constituents last Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Ravitch and Freitas likewise drew hundreds of supporters to separate swearing-in ceremonies last week. On Tuesday, they said again that they were honored and humbled to be chosen by voters to serve in their positions. Ravitch defeated Stephan Passalacqua, who served eight years as district attorney, and Freitas ran unopposed to replace Bill Cogbill, who retired after eight years as sheriff.

Also sworn in were Rod Dole, the long-time county auditor, controller, treasurer and tax collector, and Atkinson, the clerk-recorder, assessor and elections chief. Both ran unopposed in November.

The Board of Supervisors attended to other ceremonial business at the start of its regular meeting. Supervisor Valerie Brown, who served as the board chairwoman for the past year, handed the gavel to the new chairman, Efren Carrillo, 29, who became the board's first Latino member when he was elected in 2008.

He said he had big shoes to fill, taking over from Brown, the board's lone two-term veteran who has also served in the state Assembly and in county leadership positions at the state and national level.

"There's always more to learn. There's always more to accomplish," Carrillo said.

The board approved on its consent calendar McGuire's first batch of appointments to county advisory boards. Those seven posts included the north county seat on the Planning Commission, which will be filled by Jason Liles, a former Healdsburg councilman and mayor who was McGuire's campaign advisor.

Nominations from Rabbitt and others from McGuire are expected later this month.

Carrillo also announced supervisors' assignments to four dozen regional and local commissions, government bodies and associations that oversee solid waste, air quality, water supply, transportation, development policy, tribal issues, health care and pension system governance. The list of assignments is available at the Board of Supervisors website, http://supervisors.sonoma-county.org.

At the end of the day, the board adjourned in the memory of the six victims killed in the Tucson shooting rampage on Saturday.

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