Nearly 400 people showed up at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens late Saturday afternoon to bid farewell to former county supervisor Naomi Schwartz, a cornerstone of the South Coast environmental movement, women’s political community, and the Democratic Party. Schwartz, who retired from the Board of Supervisors in 2004, died earlier this year from complications following surgery. On hand to give Schwartz a send-off was her daughter and city planning commissioner Deborah Schwartz, and former state senator Gary Hart, for whom Naomi Schwartz worked as district manager after her stint on the Coastal Commission.
County Supervisor Salud Carbajal expressed gratitude Schwartz appointed him as her administrative assistant — a post he held for 12 years — upon her election to the board in 1992. “Naomi took a chance on hiring a 26-year-old, very green young man without the standard portfolio or typical credentials to serve as her executive staff,” he said. “This was typical Naomi; she did this many times.” Schwartz combined a keen sense of political strategy, professional competence, and integrity with personal skills that earned her respect — and friendship — on all sides of the aisle. When she stepped down, it would be 5th District Supervisor Joe Centeno — a conservative Republican — who would lead the charge to name a new office building after Schwartz. A tearful Carbajal closed out his remarks, saying, “I love and miss you, boss.”