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Supervisor Karen Mitchoff is the new chairperson of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

Mitchoff, whose District 4 includes Pleasant Hill and much of Walnut Creek and Concord, succeeds District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis in the leadership post. She was able to ascend to the top spot Tuesday after vice chairperson and District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover stepped aside. Glover remains vice chairperson.

“It was his turn to be chair and he very graciously agreed to serve again as vice chair so I could be chair in my last year of public service,” Mitchoff said after both retook their oath of office.

It was a bittersweet meeting for Burgis, who lost her husband, Richard Clayton, to suicide in December.

“It’s been a privilege to serve as your chair and I just want the world to know that these other four humans care deeply for this county,” Burgis said about her board colleagues. “And while we don’t always agree, I can tell you there is great respect and affection between us and so much professional commitment to democracy.”

Frequently choking back tears, Burgis thanked a long list of people, including her late husband.

Burgis expresses gratitude

“And I want to thank my sweet Richard,” Burgis said. “I want to thank everyone for the overwhelming but comforting outpouring of love that has come my way this past month.”

Burgis said his death was “devastating,” and rocked her “physically and emotionally and even spiritually.”

“I want to tell the world I was very fortunate, and I am so grateful, to have been so very loved by an exceptionally smart kind, funny, funny as heck, loving man,” Burgis said.

“We have made East Contra Costa a safer place, and we will see that rolling out this year.”

Supervisor Diane Burgis

Burgis, who had a pacemaker installed in October to correct a heart defect, acknowledged the entire year was difficult. She also said she was proud of the county progress in fighting COVID-19, allocating Measure X funds where they are needed, and annexing the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District into the bigger Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

“It was something that was very important to me,” Burgis said. “We have made East Contra Costa a safer place, and we will see that rolling out this year.”

Colleagues noted Burgis’ ability to stay calm during some turbulent meetings in 2021. They also praised her for frequently encouraging the public to be curious and kind.

“The last two years have been some of the most challenging times for our community, for the county, for our society and for this board, and you have done an amazing job at really trying to run meetings in ways that respected people who testified,” said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia. “You ran our meetings with professionalism and grace, so thank you very much for that.”