Former San Mateo County Sheriff Don Horsley was elected Tuesday to the District 3 seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, now occupied by Rich Gordon, who was elected to the state Assembly.
Mr. Horsley won 56.5 percent of the vote, defeating April Vargas, 73,234 to 56,391.
In addition to being sheriff for 14 years, Mr. Horsley, 66, is a board member of the Sequoia Healthcare District.
Mr. Horsley now has the opportunity to make good on his ideas for addressing the $150 million structural deficit the county is facing in 2014 if something isn't done to align expenses with income.
His expenses will not be aligned with his income as supervisor, but then he is a retired California sheriff living on a retired California sheriff's pension. While supervisors receive an annual salary of about $115,000, Mr. Horsley has said he would take only $1 a year.
The county has been borrowing from its reserves for the past three years. The 2010-11 county budget is $1.8 billion, including $90 million from reserves.
In the run up to the election, Mr. Horsley said in an interview that he would focus his cost-cutting attention in the areas of public safety and health care -- reflective of his experience.
"I'm aware of what the community's problems are," he said when asked why voters should choose him. "I'm aware of how to continue to make this county the best it can possibly be."
Among his cost-saving ideas at that time:
■ Have jailed pregnant women sent home where they could be electronically monitored.
■ Evaluate patients now in skilled nursing care for less expensive assisted living, and ask nonprofit hospitals to raise their intake of charity cases, given that the national average is 6 percent and locally it's 2 percent.
■ Consolidate county firefighting agencies to maintain the number of actual firefighters but lower the number of managers -- a savings of about $8 million, he said.