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Longtime Merced County Supervisor retires after nearly three decades

Longtime Merced County Supervisor Jerry O’Banion displays one of the many gifts he received from several agencies and county employees at his final board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, after 28 years of service.
Longtime Merced County Supervisor Jerry O’Banion displays one of the many gifts he received from several agencies and county employees at his final board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, after 28 years of service.

Merced County Supervisor Jerry O’Banion on Tuesday received a replica scaled Merced County vehicle, a framed tribute from colleagues and several awards and commendations for his service that spanned more than a quarter-century.

Local officials and members of the public, including several old friends from his days at Dos Palos High School, celebrated his achievements as he attended his last Merced County Board of Supervisors meeting.

“I had a great experience being a supervisor over the years through the good times and the bad times,” O’Banion said. “I was very appreciative and somewhat humbled by all the comments individuals made.”

O’Banion, 72, has served seven terms since 1990. The District 5 supervisor represented the west side communities of Dos Palos, Los Banos, Midway, Santa Nella, South Dos Palos and Volta.

Among the officials to share stories about O’Banion were fellow board members Lee Lor, Rodrigo Espinoza, Daron McDaniel and Lloyd Parreira. They were followed by U.S. Rep. Jim Costa, Assemblyman Adam Gray and outgoing state Senator Anthony Cannella.

“He just brought so many accomplishments over the years,” Gray said, noting O’Banion has received so many awards and certificates from the community. “It’s just hard to honor a career like (O’Banion’s).”

Gray said he plans to hold a fundraiser on the west side to form a scholarship in O’Banion’s name in honor of his service.

Several members of other public agencies, including NAACP President Darryl Davis and Calfire Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit Chief Nancy Koerperich, also spoke about the dedication O’Banion took to his job.

O’Banion served on the Dos Palos City Council from 1980 to 1990, with a stint as mayor from 1987 to 1990.

He is a part-owner of O’Banion Ranches and has committed to staying active in the community.

Speculation mounted over the past two years on whether he was going to try for an eighth term in June’s primary elections. But he announced in July 2017 that he planned to step down.

After that, four candidates emerged for his seat: Los Banos City Councilman Scott Silveira, Patricia Ramos Anderson from the Santa Nella Water District, business owner Richard De La Paz and law clerk Lea Hernandez Holguin.

Silveira won the June election with more than 60 percent of the vote, avoiding a November runoff election. He will be sworn in during the Jan. 7 board meeting.

“I wish him well and I think he’ll do a good job,” O’Banion said about Silveira. “He’s young, but he’s got the experience needed to do the job, and he’ll learn.”

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