Gay Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager has called on officials in the South Bay county to tackle several LGBT issues, including expansion of HIV testing and LGBT sensitivity training for juvenile probation officials.
Yeager, 60, assumed his second term as president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors earlier this month. One of his first duties in the ceremonial post was to deliver the annual State of the County address, which he gave Tuesday, January 29 and can be viewed online here.
He covered a number of topics in his 26-minute speech, during which he thanked his partner, Michael Haberecht, for his “encouragement and support.”
A San Jose resident and the only out person on the county board, Yeager laid out what he called “ambitious” goals for 2013. A top concern will be to ready Santa Clara for health care expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act.
He wants the board to hire a lobbyist to focus on health care reform efforts in Sacramento and to extend medical and dental coverage to “all kids in need.”
In terms of LGBT specific goals, Yeager wants the county’s health department to conduct a communitywide health assessment and action plan for LGBT Santa Clara County residents. He also called on health officials to increase the county’s HIV testing services.
Yeager used the speech to announce the launch of a pilot program to offer 500 at-home HIV test kits to people at-risk for the disease. If it is deemed successful, he hopes to see the program be expanded.
“Testing is crucial,” said Yeager, noting that there are at least 3,000 people living with AIDS in Santa Clara County.
Having people know their HIV status, he added, “lessens the likelihood of them infecting others and helps in getting them the treatment they need.”
In April the county will launch a new ad campaign to promote STD testing, especially among sexually active youth, announced Yeager. The social marketing push during STD Awareness Month is in response to the county’s rising rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
Another initiative Yeager announced Tuesday was a program to train juvenile probation officers on the needs of LGBT youth in their care.
As expected, Yeager reiterated at the end of the address his plan to seek a third and final term on the county board in 2014 rather than run for a state Assembly seat that year. A spokesman for Yeager had told the Bay Area Reporter in December that his boss had ruled out seeking the legislative post.
“We have very important work to be done here and I would be honored to be part of the team that accomplishes it,” said Yeager.
Yeager’s decision means gay Campbell Mayor Evan Low is certain to be a top contender should he run for the Assembly District 24 seat as expected next year. His boss, Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), will be termed out of office next year.
Low suspended his bid in 2012 when Fong decided to run for re-election. According to the Secretary of State’s office, Low has already formed a 2014 campaign committee. He reported raising $178,345.06 in 2012, with $140,119.60 cash on hand for future campaign.