Thank you so much to Sarah Rabanales, our Sac State intern, for this detailed write-up! Read more about Sarah by clicking here.
On June 7th, the Board of Supervisors got together to discuss various consent items, but also to authorize the staffing recommendations for Chevon Kothari and Amanda Benson.
*Chevon Kothari pictured below (we were unable to find a picture of Amanda Benson!)
Kothari was recommended to take the position of Deputy County Executive of Social Services, in order to replace Bruce Wagstaff, and Benson was recommended to take over as a Public Defender for the Public Defender’s Office. Both of these appointees (on paper) were recommended on behalf of Ann Edwards, the Sac County Executive. Edwards based their nomination on their strong track records as leaders in their fields, along with their extensive experience.
When looking to understand how these nominations affect social justice, it is important to understand the candidate's background and track record in order to predict how they may react to certain issues, and what we can expect from them.
As mentioned in Ann Edwards’ introduction to Chevon Kothari, her 20 years of experience, management/leadership skills within social services, and her time as Director of Health Services this year led to the decision to recommend her as Deputy County Executive of Social Services. Although Edwards highlighted some of Kothari’s main qualifications, there's definitely more to know about her.
According to an interview conducted by ABC10 News (linked here) regarding her previous position as the Director of the Department of Health Services for Sac County, Kothari stated that she intends to focus on pursuing health equity during her time as an employee of the County. This is important to the role of Deputy County Executive of Social Services because she will handle the distribution of resources, which, for vulnerable communities, is especially crucial to approach through a health equity lens. So all that sounds okay, but then...
...within the same interview Kothari also explained the importance of rebuilding trust within the community by responding to all unique needs with out of the box creativity (sounds okay)...HOWEVER she then touched on the idea of Health Services teaming up with law enforcement, stating that helping those in crisis may necessitate a multidisciplinary approach, in order to ensure their safety and eventual recovery...
*taken from the previously mentioned article
Although this isn’t a full understanding of Kothari’s intentions as Deputy County Executive of Social Services, it does give us a closer look into her values and approach. She's been recorded using some good buzz words, but it'll be important to keep an eye on her, and be ready to call out policy decisions that do NOT center health equity...and also those that support law enforcement.
As for the recommendation for Amanda Benson, Ann Edwards also specifically highlighted her 20 plus years of experience as a trial lawyer, and her leadership positions. Although there isn’t much published information specifically about Benson, her track record does speak for her new position as Public Defender.
As recorded by various news outlets, Benson has done quite a bit of advocacy on behalf of various groups. According to ABC10 News (article linked here), as one of the Assistant Public Defenders representing the Golden State Killer, Benson and many of her colleagues advocated for more funding to provide him a fair trial with appropriate representation. Even though many do not believe in fair representation for criminals like the Golden State Killer, it is essential within our democracy to provide fair and appropriate representation for everyone.
A huge part of the fight towards social justice is being informed about the people taking important positions within our local/state government. These two positions hold quite a bit of power, and for this reason we should keep ourselves informed.
Remember that many hands make light werk, and that we need to make our voices heard!