Washington, who was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, makes history in the 125 years of Riverside County Board of Supervisors
By Corey Arvin
Sitting across from Gov. Jerry Brown at the Mission Inn last month, Chuck Washington couldn’t glean where this meeting was headed. Driving home in his car, reflecting back, he “felt less optimistic.” It would be days after his discussion with Brown that the governor’s staff confirmed what Washington had hoped -- that he was Brown’s choice to fill the District 3 seat of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
Brown’s appointment of Washington set a precedent for the region, as he is now Riverside County’s first African-American Supervisor in its 125 years of existence.
Since late last year, Washington had been in a free-for-all contest to fill the recently vacated District 3 seat for the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, previously held by now-State Senator (R-CA) Jeff Stone.
“Once Jeff got elected, it was just ‘game on’ -- everyone was trying to get the governor's attention,” he said.
Washington had been mulling whether he would run for reelection on the Temecula City Council around the time the District 3 seat was open. Running for Supervisor seemed like a natural fit to Washington. He earned a wide net of supporters in the weeks ahead, backing him for the District 3 seat, including Pechanga, the NAACP Riverside Chapter, and local Service Employees International Union (SEIU), among other key supporters.
Becoming Riverside County Supervisor isn’t the first “first” for Washington. He was also the first African-American Mayor of Temecula, serving in 2007 and 2012. Prior to resigning, he served on the Temecula City Council since 2003. Washington was a pilot for Delta Air Lines from 1987 to 2005 and 2008 to 2014. Before Temecula, he was a member of the Murrieta City Council and served once as Mayor from 1995 to 1999. Washington also served in the U.S. Navy from 1981 to 1987. He earned a Master of Public Administration degree from National University.
Washington is no stranger to regional issues, having served previously on the Western Riverside Council of Governments and the regional Economic Development Corporation.
Stone, who has known Washington for several years, was swift to support Washington on his appointment to fill his seat.
“I’m very proud of my former colleague, a well-respected elected official throughout Southwest Riverside County. I’m very proud of him being the first African-American to serve on the board of Supervisors in our 125 year history and I know that Chuck is going to do a fantastic job on behalf of the citizens of our county,” said Stone.
Washington’s previous involvement in regional issues that impact Temecula and adjacent cities attracted Washington to the District 3 seat. Washington says he discovered he genuinely enjoyed the work and viewed the Supervisor seat as an opportunity to partner with cities that need attention to important issues without disrupting their autonomy. One of his first priorities will be preserving and supporting public safety funding in his district, he said.
“A couple of cities in my district have had to cut back on staffing, had to cut back on police and fire... I need to be supportive of their communities and offer whatever assistance they need to keep crime stats down. And they are going to need some help to keep their economies growing,” said Washington.
With his recent appointment, Washington isn’t looking back. In fact, he expressed elation he would be able to continue to serve Temecula and the Southwest Region in his new role -- and he won’t be far from home.
“I have been involved in other agencies, in regional issues and found that I really enjoyed to be more involved in district. I’m going from helping a city of 106,000 people, to a district with 450,000 in a county of about 2.5 million people.”
Washington will remain appointed to the District 3 seat until 2016.