Born and raised in the Tracy area, San Joaquin County Supervisor Robert Rickman now counts Escalon residents among his constituents.
Recently named to serve as vice chair of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, Rickman represents District 5 on the panel. The district originally included Mountain House, Tracy, part of Manteca and River Islands in Lathrop.
“Now, with redistricting, it covers Mountain House, Tracy, Ripon and Escalon, pretty much the whole southern part of the county,” Rickman explained.
Escalon was previously in District 4, represented by Chuck Winn, but now is in District 5. Winn, through redistricting, held on to the communities of Farmington and Collegeville in the local area and is currently serving as board chair.
Rickman has lived in San Joaquin County his entire life and said his daughters are “fourth generation” county residents. He is a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol out of Tracy but also has been involved in politics since 2010.
“At the time, I had my two young daughters, and I wanted to make our community a better, safer place to grow up,” he explained. “If you want to make change, you have to get involved.”
Rickman originally ran for Tracy City Council and served two terms on the council, then was elected Mayor of Tracy in 2016.
“I termed out in 2020, ran for county supervisor and here I am,” he said of his path to the countywide dais.
He said there are some basic issues that the entire county, not just his district, are grappling with to begin 2022.
“We have been very, very busy here in the county but there’s a variety of issues; COVID is always an issue and water, mostly in my district, with the large agriculture (base), water is a primary concern,” he said.
He also pointed to housing, crime, economic development and transportation as key areas for the board to focus on this year and beyond.
“I think we are all working toward the same objective,” he said of positioning the county for success and growth. “Some of us have different ways of getting there, but if you look at the last year, this is one of the most productive boards in getting things done.”
Among the highlights; putting $2 million into funding to assist small businesses weather the COVID storm, including through the RAD Card program; breaking ground in Stockton for expansion at the airport, with the anticipation of several thousand new jobs being created there; adding positions in the District Attorney’s office and creating special services divisions within the Sheriff’s Department to tackle crime; and more.
Rickman said there are also many ways for the county to capitalize on tourism traffic.
“If you look throughout San Joaquin County as a whole, the Delta for example, the beauty of that, the boating there and also the fishing side of it,” he noted of a big draw for sportsmen and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. “We also have great venues for different concerts, the Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton, the Grand Theatre in Tracy.”
And not only for local residents, sports complexes such as Big League Dreams in Manteca, Legacy Fields in Tracy and Mistlin Sports Park in Ripon often draw tournaments that bring teams from all over the state to San Joaquin County. Rickman said he “pushed hard” for Legacy Fields when he served as mayor in Tracy and was glad to see that project come to fruition.
“Even our agriculture, the almond blossoms, people come to San Joaquin County just to take photos with the blossoms,” he pointed out. “Lodi has its wine industry … San Joaquin County has a little bit for everybody.”
Rickman said he remains optimistic overall for the future, as the county winds its way through difficult times but is poised for success.
“I think we are moving in a great direction, we are being proactive, working with the San Joaquin Partnership” on a number of projects and initiatives, he said. “One thing we have done really well, important to me coming from city government to the county, we are making sure the county and the cities are on the same playing field, working together.”