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Tissier Takes Over as County Board President

New board president said solving the budget crisis is a top priority for 2012.

The new president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has a substantial set of challenges she must successfully lead the county through in the upcoming year.

But Adrienne Tissier said she is prepared for the task.

Tissier, who was unanimously voted into the board's top spot Tuesday morning by her fellow supervisors, said her approach to issues will be inspired by the traits of the dragon, which is featured in 2012 on the Chinese zodiac calendar.

The dragon is driven, unafraid of challenges and willing to take risks, according to Tissier, who replaced Supervisor Carole Groom as board president.

All those characteristics, and more like them, will be necessary to overcome hurdles such as the $50 million structural deficit the county is currently grappling with.

Still, Tissier remains optimistic, and believes it is possible to continue progress already begun toward attaining long term financial solvency for the county.

"My hope is that we will do as much as we can in this coming year to be ready for future years," said Tissier.

Tissier is not the only one assuming a new role on the Board. Supervisor Don Horsley will Tissier's former position as the Board's vice president. Meanwhile, Groom will move back into the role of supervisor.

This type of role rotation takes place at the beginning of each new year in San Mateo County, as supervisors share the responsibility of serving as president and vice president.

Tissier, who represents District 5, admits she finds the tasks before her in the coming year to be daunting.

"We have some big issues on the plate," she said.

Compounding the county's existing financial concern is the need to make progress toward constructing a new jail in Redwood City, which the board approved building last year.

Financial projections show it will likely cost between $100 million and $165 million to build a facility large enough to accommodate approximately 500 beds for inmates, necessary to quell concerns of overcrowding currently plaguing the county's jail system.

The annual operating expense for the jail could be as much as $44 million according to public documents.

Furthering concerns about the county's inmate population is the enactment of AB 109, signed by Governor Jerry Brown last year, which sends "low-level" criminals formerly incarcerated in the state prisons back to the local county court system.

Tissier said a successful inmate realignment process - as well as an effort to build a new jail - hinges on the ability of the county to implement programs that effectively reduce recidivism rates.

Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson has spearheaded the Board's effort to identify programs effective in lowering the amount of repeat offenders, which will cut the costs associated to the county jail system, said Tissier.

"We are not going to do business the same old way," she said. "We need to assess a person who is in trouble and give them care to make them productive county residents."

Another key to easing the county's budget concerns will be identifying opportunities for economic development, such as capitalizing on sporting events that will take place locally this year, including the US Open golf tournament in Daly City and America's Cup boat races in San Francisco, she said.

Tissier said taking advantage of such opportunities, as well as potentially pursuing another attempt at passing a county parking tax, could help in preventing further budget cuts in the upcoming year.

Voters in 2008 shot down Measure Q, which would have imposed an eight-percent business license tax on commercial parking lot revenues in unincorporated San Mateo County.

Ultimately, in front of a revamped Board Chambers which featured four new flat screen televisions along with other updated technology, Tissier said she was prepared for what lies ahead.

"I really look forward to a prosperous and productive year," she said.

She and her fellow supervisors also thanked Groom for her service as president, and presented her with a clock to recognize her contributions.

"It's a wonderful thing to be part of an organization like this," said Groom, as she acknowledged and thanked the rest of the Board, as well as the administrative staff, and the more than 5,000 workers employed by the county.

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