MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County Supervisor Simon Salinas will retire from office in early 2019 after his current term expires, ending a nearly three-decade career in public office, and is throwing his support behind his chief of staff — and South County native — Chris Lopez to succeed him for the District 3 position.
“Chris has been in the trenches for the last decade, doing what it takes to guarantee the best outcomes for our community. I am wholeheartedly supporting his candidacy for supervisor because he is willing and prepared to take on this responsibility and I believe he is the best person to fill this role,” Salinas said.
Salinas, 61, was the first Mexican-American elected to Salinas City Council in 1989, which kicked off his public service career. Four years later, in 1993, he was elected to represent District 1 on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, and was re-elected in 1997. The Texas native was then sworn in to represent the 28th District in the California State Assembly in 2000, serving for six years before he termed out.
In 2007, Salinas once again became a Monterey County supervisor, this time representing District 3.
According to reports, Salinas said his plans after leaving office at the end of his fifth term as a supervisor will be to spend time with his 86-year-old mother and his son.
Lopez, 32, announced his candidacy last week for District 3, the largest supervisorial district that encompasses part of Salinas and all of South County. The open seat will be up for election next year.
“As supervisor I know I can serve my community and help to further the quality of life and economic prosperity for the residents of the Salinas Valley,” Lopez said in a statement. “I am humbled by the encouragement shown by our community leaders from agriculture, local government and community organizations in offering their support and endorsement.”
Lopez was raised in King City, where he “developed a passion for civic engagement” by watching his parents, Vince and Tina Lopez, give their time and effort to local organizations. After graduating high school, he earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations at Claremont McKenna College before returning home for an internship with Supervisor Salinas.
He has worked side by side with Salinas for nearly a decade, serving as his Chief of Staff for the past six years.
“In Simon, I have found a mentor, great leader and teacher. I have worked tirelessly on issues important to our valley, always advocating for our constituents, and striving to provide additional economic opportunities,” Lopez said. “A decade of experience working with one of the strongest and thoughtful leaders in California has prepared me to be entrusted as an advocate for the residents, businesses and families of the Third District.”
Lopez has served the Salinas Valley while working on Redevelopment Oversight Boards for the South County communities of King City, Greenfield, Soledad and Gonzales, in addition to serving on the Arts Council for Monterey County for more than eight years. He also has been involved with the King City Fundraising Committee for Girls Inc. and the Community Grants Panel for the Community Foundation for Monterey County.
“I intend to do all that I can to preserve the South County I know and love,” he said.
Lopez currently lives in Greenfield with his wife Jazmin.