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Manuel Perez sworn in as county supervisor

Will fill vacant seat of John Benoit

Gov. Brown appoints Manuel Perez to...

Riverside, Calif. - Update 05/12/17:

V. Manuel Perez was sworn in today as a Riverside County Supervisor, representing the county's Fourth District.

I am humbled and excited,'' Perez said. "We have a lot of work to do together as a district. I will be reaching out to all communities in the form of listening tours to better understand the concerns of my constituents.''

During the informal swearing in, the 44-year-old former assemblyman took his oath before County Clerk Kecia Harper-Ihem in the County Administrative Center in downtown Riverside.

A ceremonial swearing-in will take place at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Supervisors on May 23.

This morning was my first official briefing on the budget,'' Perez said. ``I will be following up with staff next week on next steps. Please do not hesitate to contact my office."

He was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown Tuesday to fill the Fourth District seat, which became vacant following the Dec. 26 death of Supervisor John J. Benoit.

Read: Supervisor John Benoit passes away from pancreatic cancer 

The appointment was read aloud in the board chamber by Supervisor Chuck Washington as the supervisors reviewed third quarter finances for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Congratulations to Mr. Perez,'' said Supervisor Marion Ashley. "We look forward to having him here.''

Perez was selected from an undisclosed number of applicants for the supervisorial position that Brown's office reviewed over the past four months.

The Coachella resident has been working most recently as the chief government and public affairs officer for Borrego Springs-based Borrego Health Community Clinics.

Between 2008 and 2014, the lifelong Democrat represented the 56th Assembly District, covering portions of the Coachella and Imperial valleys. He was termed out of office. Before his election to the Assembly, he was a member of the Coachella Valley Unified School District.

Perez challenged Benoit for the Fourth District seat in 2014 but lost by a wide margin. If he chooses to seek election to the seat, Perez will have to run in the June 2018 primary.

Because Riverside County is not a charter county, any time a supervisor dies, resigns or otherwise vacates a seat, it falls on the governor to appoint someone to fill it. Prior to this appointment, Brown appointed Washington to fill the Third District seat left open by the election of then-Supervisor Jeff Stone to the state Senate. Washington won the election in his own right last year.

Benoit died at his Bermuda Dunes home declining rapidly in his battle with pancreatic cancer. In addition to his seven-year service as a supervisor, he was an assemblyman and state senator. He went into politics after a 30-year career with the California Highway Patrol.

Read: Officials remember Supervisor John Benoit 

Ashley has served as steward of the Fourth District since Benoit's passing.

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Original Article 5/12/17:

5-10-17: Manuel Perez releases statement on being appointed to Riverside County Supervisor role:

"I am truly humbled and honored to serve as the next Supervisor for Riverside County’s 4th District,” Perez said. “There are a number of challenges that confront our county. Starting today, and continuing through the coming weeks and months, I will engage with state, regional, and local community representatives to build broad-based support around common sense solutions that strengthen our county’s fiscal outlook, and improve the quality of life for all Coachella Valley residents and County residents at large."

Perez went on to say, "It is not lost on me that this appointment would not have happened were it not for Supervisor John J. Benoit's untimely passing. As I complete the remaining term of our late Supervisor, I will strive to live up to his legacy of fairness, and putting others before self. I know that he was loved by many, and he and his family will continue to be in my prayers."

“I want to thank all those who have supported me throughout the appointment process, and I look forward to the work ahead.”

Supervisor Marion Ashley states: “I am delighted that the Governor made his choice today. I am equally delighted of the decision made by Governor Brown in the appointment of V. Manuel Perez. Supervisor Perez brings great life experiences and a distinguished work ethic especially in the health care arena and has a remarkable track record of state legislation and administrative professionalism. Moreover, during this past transition phase, I wish to extend my sincere appreciation to all of Supervisor Benoit’s staff, – my heartfelt admiration to the distinguished leadership of chief of staff, Michelle DeArmond.”

Supervisor and Chairman of the Board, John Tavaglione stated: “I want to thank Governor Brown for making the appointment today [Tuesday], and I send my sincere congratulations to our newest Board colleague, Supervisor Manuel Perez. We look forward to working with Supervisor Perez in the months ahead.”

5-9-17 Governor Brown appoints Manuel Perez to Riverside County Board of Supervisors:

On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown announced his appointment for the vacant Riverside County supervisor 4th district position, left vacant after the death of former Supervisor John J. Benoit last year. 

Read: Officials remember Supervisor John Benoit 

44-year-old Manuel Perez, a former assemblyman and current Coachella city councilman, will step into the role. Residents of Coachella said they are excited to see a Latino and longtime community member assigned to the role.

"Mr. Perez was not only a school teacher, but he's local here from Coachella and so it's good to have somebody who's representative from here," Trinidad Arredondo told KESQ News Channel 3's and CBS Local 2's Katie Widner. "We hope you focus on the right things and do the right job and do a good job because many people will be depending on you."

"That's great news for us Latinos," said Rosa Alcala. "Hopefully, he will actually support us and will do something for the Salton Sea."

Steven Hernandez, mayor of Coachella, said he is confident Perez will do a great job.

"Manuel is well-prepared. Manuel has a tremendous amount of experience on the local level, not only as a local city council member but as a local school board member, and then as an assembly member for six years where he was also the majority leader," Hernandez said

Perez's appointment will vacate a spot on the Coachella city council.

"Obviously, Manuel was an integral member of our council," Hernandez added. "We'll look at our options and move forward on appointing someone to that post."

Riverside County released a statement Tuesday afternoon following the news:

"Executive Officer Jay Orr congratulates soon-to-be Supervisor Perez. We are pleased that the county will soon have a full contingent of five board members. The Executive Office will provide whatever help the new supervisor might need to begin serving residents of the Fourth District and help implement ideas he might bring to the county."

The announcement comes more than four months after the Dec. 26 death of Benoit, who died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. We reached out to his office on Tuesday, but did not receive a comment. Perez will be able to fill his own team inside the supervisor's office.

 The chairman of the Board of Supervisors released the following statement:

"I want to thank Governor Brown for making the appointment today, and I send my sincere congratulations to our newest Board colleague, Supervisor Manny Perez. In taking over the 4th District reins of our dear, departed friend John Benoit, Manny will have huge shoes to fill and a steep learning curve as he begins addressing the many challenges our great county faces. I have no doubt he is up to the task at hand, and look forward to working with Supervisor Perez."

The position will be up for election again in June of 2018. Perez did not return multiple requests for comment, but he already has some competition if he wants to hold onto the title. Jan Harnik, the mayor of Palm Desert, told News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 that she intends to run and has already begun fundraising for the 2018 race. 

Harnik released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"I’m surprised that the Governor appointed the one person in this district who has been overwhelmingly rejected by the voters of this district just three years ago.  Manny says he wants to continue John Benoit’s legacy, but the reality is that he did his best to defeat John and prevent him from continuing his style of representation.  People are not receiving this news well and since Manny’s appointment, my phone has been ringing off the hook. My campaign has already raised more than $110,000 and my list of supporters has been growing by the minute."

Perez has been chief government and public affairs officer at Borrego Health since 2015. He served as an Assemblymember in the California State Assembly from 2008 to 2014 and was director of community health and advocacy at Santa Rosa Del Valle-Borrego Health from 2004 to 2008.

Perez earned a Master of Education degree in administrative planning and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where Hernandez said he was schoolmates with Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz. The position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $153,289. Perez is a Democrat. 

Congressman Ruiz congratulated Perez in the following statement.

“Congratulations to Coachella City Councilman Manuel Perez on his appointment as the new 4th District Supervisor for Riverside County. Manuel brings a lifetime of distinguished public service and dedication to his new position and I know his constituents will be well served. I look forward to working together to serve the people in our community.”

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