SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Santa Cruz County Third District Supervisor announced he will not be seeking reelection and that his final term will end in 2022.
Supervisory Ryan Coonerty was elected as Third District Supervisor in 2014 and was reelected in 2018.
"It's been a very challenging year from COVID, and economic crisis, to reckoning with racial injustice to fires to trying to deal with the Trump administration and a chaos around that," said Coonerty. "Then I lost my aide and one of my friends to a hit and run accident. And so all those factors combined really had taken a big toll."
Coonerty also said he believes it's time for another person to step up.
"I think you want to have as much age diversity, gender, race, ethnic, as much life experience as you can,” said Coonerty. “You want to bring all those perspectives to the table because obviously, when you're making policy, you're making it for a diverse community here in Santa Cruz County and we want our representatives should reflect that diversity."
The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors has been all-male since 2013 and all-white since 2011. According to the census hard to count fact sheet, 42% of Santa Cruz County is non-white.
“That doesn't reflect the diversity and the values of this community,” said Coonerty. “So, I'm hoping that a woman or a person of color can step up and be a voice not only for the third district but also bring those experiences to the discussions and policy debates."
Marcelino Gutierez, Watsonville resident said he would like to see a woman take the seat. However, he also said it's important for supervisors to be able to speak Spanish. According to the census, 89% of Santa Cruz county speak Spanish since they do not speak English very well.
“And that's the problem that we have, some of us don't speak English and that's the reason,” said Gutierez. “Having a Latino, well you understand the person more.”
Santa Cruz County Second District Supervisor Zack Friend said he agrees with Coonerty on the importance of diversity.
In a statement to KION, he wrote, “Diversity leads to better perspective, better representation, and better outcomes. Elected leaders that reflect the demographics of their community, with a diversity of identities, experiences, and backgrounds can bridge gaps and build trust in unique ways that improve governance for all involved.”