SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tapped a former Southern California assemblyman Thursday to be his secretary for state and consumer services, overseeing government purchasing, civil rights enforcement and dozens of consumer licensing boards.
Fred Aguiar, currently serving as a San Bernardino County supervisor, said he expects to begin his Cabinet post in about two weeks.
“Fred’s experience in government makes him a fantastic addition to my administration,” Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working with him to better serve the state.”
Aguiar, who served in the Assembly from 1992-98, will receive a salary of $131,412 in his new post. Senate confirmation is required.
The California State and Consumer Services Agency encompasses the state Department of Consumer Affairs, Personnel Board, Department of General Services and Department of Fair Employment and Housing, among other programs.
Aguiar’s agency licenses and regulates 2.3 million professionals serving the public in more than 230 fields – including auto repair, doctors, dentists, contractors and cosmetologists.
“I’m excited about being part of this team,” Aguiar said of his Cabinet post. “I believe Governor Schwarzenegger has energized Californians, and he has instilled hope and optimism that Californians will take back their government.”
Consumer groups expressed disappointment Thursday that Schwarzenegger had not selected someone with an extensive, well-known record of consumer advocacy.
Jamie Court, president of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said the former Republican assemblyman “always talked a good game but was missing when it came time to deliver.”
“Whenever push came to shove, he voted with the industries,” Court said. “He was definitely not the worst of the Republican batch for consumer protection, but on all the key issues, he never gave a key vote.”
Colleagues in Southern California government said Aguiar helped crack down on corruption among San Bernardino officials and impose strict new bidding procedures to increase competition for county contracts.
“He’s very much known for his integrity,” said Mayor Gary Ovitt of Ontario.
“He has tremendous work ethic and intensity in scrutinizing documents and getting to the bottom of issues,” said Paul Biane, a fellow San Bernardino supervisor.
Aguiar’s background includes 14 years of service as a Chino councilman and mayor. Prior to launching his career in politics, Aguiar served as director of commercial development for Lewis Homes, according to Schwarzenegger’s staff.
Aguiar’s Assembly service included stints as chairman of the Rules Committee and Speaker Pro Tem.
(Distributed by Scripps-McClatchy Western Service, http://www.shns.com.)