On Nov. 8, Libertarian Jeff Hewitt was elected to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors in California, arguably the largest win in Libertarian Party history. Riverside County has a population of nearly 2.5 million, which makes it the 11th-largest county in the United States. It’s larger than the populations of 15 different states. On Jan. 8, Jeff Hewitt will be ceremonially sworn in to his new position at 9 a.m. PST by Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark, and the board will begin its business addressing land use decisions immediately after the ceremony.
Incoming supervisors have already made changes to the board’s meeting agenda, saving money by moving congratulatory proclamations to the end of the schedule. County department managers are required to be present during discussion of substantive county business, and the hourly salary cost of having them all in the room is estimated at $10,000 an hour. Now they will be able to get back to work before the end of the meeting. Hewitt heartily approves of this change in agenda priorities.
Riverside County has appropriated spending of $5.6 billion in 2018–19 on revenues of $5.4 billion, and has scheduled the use of fund balances, net assets, and reserves to cover the $200 million shortfall. As one of five supervisors, Hewitt will have 20 percent of the board’s vote. His considerable persuasive abilities will aid him in doing something about that budget shortfall going forward.
Hewitt’s latest election follows a long record of public service as a Libertarian. He started in politics as a member of the Calimesa Planning Commission in 2004 before being elected to the city council in 2011 and finally mayor in 2015. Hewitt also serves as Region 4 representative to the Libertarian National Committee.
As mayor of Calimesa, Hewitt successfully ended the city’s CalFire contract, which had saddled the city with bankruptcy-inducing pension obligations. Hewitt instituted a city fire department that costs less and provides more protection, replacing the firefighters’ unaffordable defined-benefit pensions with 401(k) funds, which are common in the private sector. This change also eliminated two layers of administrative costs at the county and state levels.
Hewitt campaigned on doing for Riverside County what he had done for Calimesa. He was able to win despite massive spending by government employee unions, and earned endorsements from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and largest local newspaper the Press Enterprise.
“We ran a real campaign with a real chance of winning,” Hewitt said. “I need to stress my heartfelt thanks to my campaign manager Boomer Shannon and the team of volunteers who knocked on doors and left behind a forest of Hewitt lawn signs.”
Matthew “Boomer” Shannon, a long-time California Libertarian activist who will serve as Hewitt’s chief of staff, said the race was won by “good ol’ fashioned politicking.” Hewitt’s good showing at the polls represents “the world turned upside down,” he said.
Although the ceremonial swearing-in takes place on Jan. 8, Hewitt was officially sworn in on Jan. 3 by the clerk of the Board of Supervisors and will begin participating in regional board meetings on Jan. 7. The board meets two to four times per month.
“We are incredibly proud of this great win for liberty by Jeff and his campaign staff,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark. On Tuesday, Sarwark will have the honor of swearing Hewitt into office.