Most people have no clue what the L.A. County Supervisor does.
Despite its low profile, this five member board of supervisors makes decisions impacting over 10 million people, and oversees a budget of over $26 billion .
Of the $26 billion 24 percent goes toward health services, 23 percent to social services and 20 percent to public protection.
So, L.A. County is in the people business. Specifically the business of helping low income residents who have no other access to critical -- and often life-saving -- services.
When a child is abused, L.A. county programs come to that child's aid. When a woman is beaten by her husband, it's very often the L.A. County Sheriff who responds. When a disabled veteran who has returned from Iraq or Afghanistan has nowhere to sleep, it may be a county funded program that provides them a bed.
The sad reality of many of these programs is that many are underfunded -- and many underperform. The relative anonymity of the board creates a lack of accountability. If most of those who live in L.A. County can't name the supervisors, will they ever vote them out of office for not delivering?
That's where Bobby Shriver comes in.
First, his election will bring a bright spotlight to the county. While his opponents have oddly attacked his famous name (somehow claiming that a multi-generational family commitment to public service is a negative) this pedigree will bring with it visibility for all that he does once in office. Media might actually begin to cover what the county does, and in the process accountability will be created.
Second, Bobby will not take no for an answer. I learned this first hand when he called me while I was working for Bill and Melinda Gates. The conversation went something like this:
Bobby: Bill Gates needs to get more involved in getting Congress to give money for AIDS in Africa. Over 40 million people have the disease and we have to stop this crisis.
Trevor: I appreciate your call Bobby, the foundation is considering a variety of options for how it can engage with governments on this issue, we share your concern about the AIDS crisis.
Bobby: That's all great, but sharing our concern won't stop people from dying. Money will stop people from dying, and Bill and Melinda Gates have a lot of it! Can we count on you to help or not?
Needless to say Bobby got what he wanted, and later he and Bono were largely credited with securing the single largest appropriation for the fight against AIDS that Congress has ever made.
Finally, while he is a successful businessman Bobby also has a life-long commitment to helping the poor. This comes from deep within him -- like me he learned it from his parents, and has carried it with him through his life. If he is elected he will serve all of us, but as he considers how $26 billion should be spent he will always be thinking about those who have no one else but government to help them.
L.A. County needs someone on the Board of Supervisors who will bring a spotlight to its important work, who won't take no for an answer, and who cares deeply about the poorest citizens of our community. That's Bobby Shriver. Vote for him on June 3.