For the second -- and what he says will be his final -- time since being elected to the Board of Supervisors a decade ago, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone today was seated as chairman of the board.
"It's hard to believe this is my 10th year as a supervisor," Stone said. "It seems like just yesterday that I was sworn in."
Stone, who last served as chair in 2009, followed Supervisor John Benoit, who served as chairman throughout 2013.
The chairmanship is a yearlong term, and each supervisor is given an opportunity to take the center seat by way of regular rotation that the board affirms with a vote at the start of the first meeting of the year.
After today's unanimous vote installing Stone and Supervisor Marion Ashley as vice chair, Stone and Benoit got up and switched seats.
"It was an honor and a privilege to serve in this capacity," Benoit said. "There's a lot things the chairman's job entails that make it interesting and challenging."
Benoit said he was proud of a number of actions taken by the board as a whole, but also a few "behind the scenes" matters that he addressed while chairman.
"I worked to improve the audio. You can go to the boys' room now during a meeting and truthfully say you are still listening to what's going on," the supervisor said half-jokingly, referring to monitors installed in the executive chamber.
"The agendas are a little easier to understand ... and we held the 'State of the County' for the first time in decades, if ever," he said. "I appreciate my colleagues' support in all this."
Stone acknowledged that there will be challenges over the next 12 months, but anticipated that with his "four brothers up here on the dais," most problems will be resolved.
Stone represents the Third District, which encompasses Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet and San Jacinto, along with unincorporated communities including Winchester, Anza, Aguanga, Idyllwild and others.
In July 2013, the Murrieta pharmacy owner announced his 2014 candidacy for the 28th California State Senate District.
Stone encouraged several of the residents who regularly speak during the board's public comments at the conclusion of every meeting to continue to take advantage of the "democratic process."
"Sometimes I respond and make remarks that in hindsight I realize I shouldn't have," Stone said. "But I want to thank those who speak out. People come to the dais and give us a fresh perspective. We need to look at issues from a private sector angle, not just what's good for the government."
Along with setting the pace of each board meeting and gaveling attendees to order, the chairman serves in a number of ceremonial capacities, attending groundbreakings, speaking at events and sometimes representing the county at functions outside the region.
—City News Service and Maggie Avants contributed to this report.