Marking his last meeting as 3rd District supervisor and chairman of the board, Gaddi H. Vasquez choked back the tears Tuesday as he said goodby to his friends and colleagues and offered best wishes to the county.
Vasquez, who leaves office at 5 p.m. today, resigned earlier this year, citing the toll of the county's bankruptcy and his desire to spend more time with his family.
He had set three goals for himself before leaving: finalizing the 1995-96 budget, formalizing a bankruptcy recovery plan and selecting a new county chief executive officer. He noted Tuesday that all have been accomplished.
"I know Orange County is poised for recovery," Vasquez said, speaking before an audience that included his parents, wife and teen-age son. "The future of Orange County remains strong and bright."
As board chairman, Vasquez has been the subject of criticism since the county declared bankruptcy Dec. 6. Even after his announced departure, Vasquez opponents continued their recall effort against him.
On Tuesday, the onetime rising star of the Republican Party who twice spoke at presidential conventions said he gave all that he could to his county job for the past eight years.
"I know I gave it my best and gave it my heart and soul," Vasquez said. "Now I go on to the next chapter in my life. And I trust there are a few more to be written."
Vasquez, 40, has yet to announce his plans, save for a long family vacation over the next few weeks. Gov. Pete Wilson has not yet appointed anyone to finish Vasquez's term, which ends in December, 1996.
Supervisor Roger R. Stanton, who will take over as board chairman, presented Vasquez with a commendation and a warm hug, describing the pressure on Vasquez in recent months as that of a "heat shield on a re-entering space capsule."
Supervisor William G. Steiner said Vasquez deserves much credit for the county's bankruptcy recovery plan, while board newcomer Jim Silva said he will miss Vasquez's guidance and dedication to county government.
Supervisor Marian Bergeson told Vasquez that the praise was "richly deserved" and predicted that Vasquez's strong work ethic will serve him well in the future.
"I'm not going to say goodby. I hate goodbys. I'm going to say thanks," Bergeson said.