After eight years of public service, Fourth District Supervisor and Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Peter Adam had his last board meeting on Tuesday, during which he was honored by past and present colleagues from Santa Barbara County.
Following the meeting’s departmental agenda, the board adopted a resolution to honor Mr. Adam’s service to the county. Fellow board members, Sheriff Bill Brown, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley, and others paid a round of compliments to the Santa Maria resident and farmer, with some occasional light roasting.
Many of the comments praising Mr. Adam centered around him pushing for fiscal responsibility, better infrastructure, addressing deferred maintenance, and being open and honest about his opinions even when he was the only one to hold them.
County CEO Mona Miyasato thanked Mr. Adam for his “doggedness” in pushing the board to be more concerned about deferred maintenance and “the essentials of what government is supposed to do.”
She added, “Even though in your whole eight years you only voted once to approve the recommended budget, I and my department always felt supported by you.”
Mr. Adam was then shown a gift not “to him,” Ms. Miyasato said, but rather a gift “from him,” a framed board inquiry form that Mr. Adam sent last fiscal year regarding deferred maintenance costs. County assistant CEO Jeff Frapwell remarked that the framed BIF form serves as an important reminder of the county government’s obligation to be “faithful stewards of taxpayers’ resources.”
Assistant CEO Barney Melekian praised Mr. Adam’s integrity and delineated that the outgoing supervisor is a “public servant” rather than a “politician.”
“He thinks that as public servants, we should recognize that the greatest gift of our job is to make the opportunity to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives, and the greatest sin is indifference to those people and their problems,” he said.
Mr. Melekian added that Mr. Adam has never spoken badly of any of his fellow board members even though he often had an opposite opinion and was frequently outvoted.
Mr. Adam’s willingness to plainly express opinions different from those of his colleagues was complimented by many. Sheriff Brown stated that Mr. Adam’s viewpoints brought an “important sense of balance” to the board.
“It’s important that we have a mixture of thought and a mixture of belief,” the sheriff stated.
While he and Mr. Adam are from different ideological backgrounds, First District Supervisor Das Williams said that he and his now-former colleague have managed to come together on key issues like safety and infrastructure.
He also told Mr. Adam, “I respect you so highly for advocating for your principles and for those of your constituents with such passion and such consistency.”
Former County Supervisor Janet Wolf said that she and Mr. Adam became very close friends and confidants despite holding drastically different views. One similarity between them is that they both share the same birthday, but Ms. Wolf said that’s not the most important one.
“I do believe that for us friendship is built on knowing when to talk and when to listen. We’re both good at that, especially Peter,” she said.
One lighthearted recollection of Mr. Adam’s fearlessness when expressing opinions came from Ms. Dudley. She called Mr. Adam “subtle,” in jest, of course. Recalling a time they met up at a party after Ms. Dudley had appeared in a video in support of Rep. Salud Carbajal, a video in which she sang no less, the DA remembered that Mr. Adam shouted across the room at her, “Hey Joyce… Don’t give up your day job!”
His plainspokenness didn’t end there, Ms. Dudley said. Mr. Adam continued yelling, “Really, Joyce! You really, really can’t sing!”
While she was kidding about Mr. Adam’s subtlety, Ms. Dudley sincerely said he was “irreverent,” “kind,” “direct,” “charming,” “appreciative,” and “deeply caring.”
Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann called Mr. Adam “honest,” “forthright,” and harboring “no hidden agendas.”
“What you see is what you get, and that’s very relatable and it inspires trust,” she said.
Ms. Hartmann also praised him for graciously handling the challenge of very often being outvoted 4-1.
Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said he appreciated Mr. Adam’s dissenting opinions, since a 5-0 board would be, in his words, “so freaking boring.” One regret Mr. Lavagnino expressed regarding his eight years with Mr. Adam on the board is that COIVID-19 didn’t hit at the beginning of their board stints.
While he and Mr. Adam got off to what he said was a “rough start” at the beginning of their time on the board, during the pandemic the two of them have attended board meetings at the Santa Maria board chamber while other three members have attended at the Santa Barbara chamber.
Mr. Lavagnino said he has “totally, thoroughly enjoyed” going to meetings with his former colleague and gave Mr. Adam three humorous gifts: Rose-colored glasses, a unincorn-and-rainbow piggy bank, and a whole loaf of Wonder Bread.
Board Chair and 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart called his vice chair a “passionate, gracious, honorable, authentic maverick.”
Mr. Hart told Mr. Adam, “I know without hesitation that you always said what you felt was right from this dais, and there is no more important standard for any public servant.”
Following all the comments honoring him, Mr. Adam delivered closing remarks in which he thanked his family, his fellow board members, and reflected on his accomplishments and even his regrets from his eight years on the board. The former included making deferred maintenance a key issue of discussion and the latter included that “we have financially crossed the River Styx.”
He confessed that he was “melancholy” about that he only managed to have a “modest degree of success in changing the course of county government.”
However there is one promise to his constituents he is confident that he achieved.
“One of my original campaign promises was to make the meetings more entertaining, I think I’ve delivered on that,” he said.