The Santa Cruz County Supervisors bade farewell to two longtime members, who served as city council members in their respective districts before taking their seats on the Board.
Ryan Coonerty joined the Board in 2014 after serving on the Santa Cruz City Council for 10 years. Greg Caput served from 2006-10 on the Watsonville City Council before he was elected to the Board in 2011.
The outgoing supervisors were presented with resolutions signed by their colleagues after all of them gave laudatory speeches.
Supervisor Bruce McPherson recalled how Caput unseated longtime Supervisor Tony Campos in a surprise upset in 2010, and then beat former Watsonville Police Chief Terry Medina in 2014 and Jimmy Dutra in 2018.
And he did so, McPherson told Caput, because “you knew your community so well.”
McPherson described Caput as a “tireless advocate for South County” who made sure the County’s resources were spread more equitably.
“I am delighted to serve with such a grounded, community-oriented, professional supervisor,” he said.
Coonerty said that before Caput voted, he considered the needs of the “average person in your district who just wants the government to work for them.”
“You brought that value and that community orientation to your decision-making, and I’ve seen it when you made decisions that were unpopular and hard,” Coonerty said. “I think you landed exactly where your community wanted you to be, and at the end of the day, that’s the best thing an elected official can often do.”
Caput recalled a conversation with his then 10-year-old son, who asked whether he was a politician or a public servant.
“I said, ‘I hope I’m a public servant because that’s what we’re supposed to do,’” Caput said. “And it’s a term that really means a lot.”
Supervisor Zach Friend said that Coonerty had been a strong voice for the county on a local, statewide and national level.
“It would be hard to find another person within our community that believes so much in public service,” Friend said. “Even in the face of a lot of the challenges and adversity, we have right now. He is one of the strongest voices for the good that local government and government, in general, can do.”
Holding back tears, Coonerty said he has watched his children grow up during his time as a Supervisor.
“Eight years is a lifetime to them, but it’s only a minute for me,” he said. As I say goodbye, I am struck by how the crises and the celebrations, the wins and the losses, are just a blur. Public life moves very quickly, except during oral communications.”
Coonerty compared his time as a leader, a community member and Santa Cruz County in general to something that could be a story from one of the books his family sells at Bookshop Santa Cruz.
“The Santa Cruz story is a unique and amazing one,” he said. “I am grateful to the voters for letting me be a character in their story for a little bit, and I can’t wait to hear the next chapter from our new leaders and our chief storytellers, my fellow Supervisors.”