Robert Rivas sits in attendance as he awaits his swearing-in as Assembly speaker at the state Capitol in Sacramento.
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Morning Lookout: Central Coast’s hopes for Rivas, RFK Jr., new county health officer, and July 4 parades

Hello! It’s Wednesday, July 5. Here’s hoping your Fourth of July was filled with fun and sun. Speaking of sun, we may get some of it later this afternoon once morning cloud cover burns off. We’re in for a high of 62F.

Time to catch up on your post-July Fourth news.

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Robert Rivas, whose District 29 stretches into parts of Santa Cruz County, is the first speaker of the California Assembly to hail from the Central Coast in roughly half a century. Local political leaders here have high hopes that Rivas will help shine a spotlight in Sacramento on the needs of the oft-neglected region of the state. Christopher Neely has more on that, along with an interview with Rivas.

Santa Cruz County’s new public health officer, Dr. Lisa Hernandez, starts her job today. She spoke with Max Chun about the biggest health challenges facing our region and how to address them.

Did you make it to one of the county’s Fourth of July parades? If not, Wallace Baine attended two — the World’s Shortest Parade in Aptos and the Independence Day parade on Main Street in Watsonville. Read on to find out what he saw.

Lastly, in our Community Voices section, it’s tempting to imagine another Kennedy in the Oval Office, writes Lookout columnist Claudia Sternbach, who got involved in Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 political campaign. However Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — well known for his antivax beliefs — is a far cry from his uncle and father.

Now let’s head over to those headlines.

Central Coast communities hope to benefit from Rivas’s rise to Assembly Speaker. Will he deliver?

Democratic Assemblymember Robert Rivas, right, on the Assembly floor on May 31, 2022.
(Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / CalMatters)

District 29 Assemblymember Robert Rivas welcomed exponentially more responsibility and power onto his plate when he was sworn in as Assembly Speaker on Friday. Political leaders in Santa Cruz County hope that Rivas’s ascension will help elevate the profile of a region that has often been overlooked and prioritize Central Coast’s varied challenges, from coastal resilience to farmworker resources. Read the full story from Christopher Neely.

MORE COVERAGE: Q&A: Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas discusses the immediate future and his hopes for the Central Coast.

Santa Cruz County leaders gather in Sacramento as Rivas sworn in as Assembly speaker after bitter battle

New Santa Cruz County health officer Lisa Hernandez on how data can help solve our health challenges

Paleontologist Wayne Thompson holding up the mastodon teeth while collections manager Kathleen Aston looks on.
(Via Lisa Hernandez)

Santa Cruz County’s new health officer, Dr. Lisa Hernandez, starts on the job today. Hernandez has held numerous high-ranking public health positions in the Bay Area and Central Coast, including a stint of more than three years as Santa Cruz County Health Officer and Health Services Agency Director from 2013 to 2016. She comes to Santa Cruz after more than five years as the City of Berkeley’s Public Health Officer, where she was a major player in the city’s pandemic response. She believes in an approach that combines data analysis with community outreach. Read the full story from Max Chun.

MORE COVERAGE: Dr. Lisa Hernandez named next Santa Cruz County health officer

In final public speech, retiring Newel talks opioid, housing crises as major issues facing Santa Cruz County

Fourth of July parades in Santa Cruz County offer a portrait of the complexities of America in 2023

The World's Shortest Parade in Aptos on July 4, 2023.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

On Tuesday, Wallace Baine took in both the World’s Shortest Parade in Aptos and the Independence Day parade on Main Street in Watsonville, all before lunch time. The classic cars on display, the spectators draped in star-spangled fabulousness, the surfers riding faux waves on the back of a truck, the people dressed in traditional ritual Indigenous attire, the political views on T-shirts — both parades point to an unmistakable profile of Americana that scratches that itch that we all feel this time of year. Read his full piece here.

I helped on Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 campaign: RFK Junior is not getting my vote

Robert F. Kennedy
(Creative Commons)

It’s been 55 years since Bobby Kennedy’s exuberant presidential primary win in California, followed shortly by his tragic murder. Now, his son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer who has taken a hard stance against vaccines, has announced his own candidacy for the 2024 election. Lookout columnist Claudia Sternbach worked on RFK’s 1968 campaign and went to San Francisco to greet him when he came to California. She says it’s “tempting” to imagine another Kennedy in the White House. But not this one. “Unfortunately when it comes to vaccines, Kennedy is not on the side of science.” Read her full Community Voices piece here.


Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

Midtown Fridays @1111 Soquel Ave.
Embroidery Workshop @Wallflower Santa Cruz
Zayante Fire Fundraiser @Felton Music Hall
Stephen Marley @The Catalyst Club
Bodhi Mojo @Woodhouse Blending & Brewing
Frequency Festival @Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Elks Oktoberfest @Santa Cruz Elks Lodge
Foodie Fruity Wreath Making Extravaganza @Scotts Valley farmers market
Vegan Italian Cooking & Wine Pairing Class @Flipjack Ranch
Teen Kitchen Project Everett Farm Dinner @Everett Family Farm
Echos Of Empire @Civic Auditorium

For the love of dogs @Chaminade Resort & Spa
41st Santa Cruz Triathlon @Depot Park
Music at the park @Skypark
Jean Dawson @The Catalyst

That’s it for this Wednesday morning. You can follow Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep tabs on Santa Cruz County news throughout the day.

And please consider becoming a Lookout member. Our content isn’t possible without community support.

Enjoy the rest of your week! Will McCahill will be back here tomorrow.

Tamsin McMahon
Lookout Santa Cruz