Mick Gleason got a warm welcome during his swearing-in ceremony as the new Kern County supervisor for the 1st District on Thursday morning.
State Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, administered the oath of office to Gleason as at least 80 people packed a hearing room in the county administrative building and some spilled out into the hallway.
"I know that we are all very, very excited ... to have people that are so highly trained, so dedicated" as new members of the Board of Supervisors, Fuller said before Gleason took the oath. "They will have the expertise to lead us through the most difficult times I have seen since growing up in Kern County."
Gleason, a retired Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake commander, got a lot of laughs for the one-liners he threw out in his Boston twang. But it was his 1-year-old granddaughter, Teagan, who almost stole the show when she ran into her grandfather's arms just as he was halfway through his acceptance speech.
Two of Gleason's three sons, his wife and a sister who came in from Boston also were there. Other elected officials filled the room, including new Supervisor Leticia Perez and Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield.
"I can't seem to give enough, because my whole life has been blessed," Gleason said. "We're here, we're together, and we're going to move forward."
This is Gleason's first elected office, and he thanked those who helped him on his campaign and other elected officials. Gleason commended his predecessor, Jon McQuiston, who is retiring as supervisor after 16 years on the board.
"I've taken over a district that's in great shape," owing to McQuiston's hard work and years of service, Gleason said.
"(In the) Navy it was me. This is different because there's going to be five of us. ... We're going to have divergent interests and concerns," Gleason said of the board he is joining. But despite whatever disagreements may arise, he said, "They're all honorable people. They're all dedicated to the betterment of Kern County."
"We're going to focus on a pro-business environment. We're going to be accessible," Gleason said. "I'm going to be out in the streets and out in the district and not spending so much time here" in his office in the main county administrative building, he said.
Among the issues he plans to address are unemployment, the methamphetamine problem in the Kern River Valley and Lake Isabella Dam issues, he said. Those should be enough to keep him and the county busy for a long time to come, he said.
"We're facing challenges now that we've never faced before," Gleason said.
Gleason was planning a second swearing-in ceremony to take place in Ridgecrest 4:30 p.m. Friday. That will be at the Historic USO Building at 230 W. Ridgecrest Blvd. Grove was to administer the oath for that ceremony.
Perez took her oath of office during a touching ceremony in mid-December in a very crowded supervisors chambers. David Couch, the third new supervisor on the five-member board, wasn't planning an event for his swearing-in.
The first meeting for the new Board of Supervisors will be noon Monday. It will choose a chair and vice chair.
The three new members taking office marks the first time in nearly 100 years that a majority of the board will turn over.