SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian on Thursday named Gaddi H. Vasquez, his chief deputy appointments secretary, to fill a vacancy on the Orange County Board of Supervisors created by the resignation in January of former Supervisor Bruce Nestande.
Vasquez, 32, a Republican and former aide to Nestande who has never held elective office, joined the Deukmejian Administration in 1985 as the governor's liaison to the Latino community.
Nestande, who has been under investigation in connection with the probe into convicted political corrupter W. Patrick Moriarty, quit his post on Jan. 21 to begin a career in the land development business.
Vasquez, who last week moved to Mission Viejo to become eligible for the appointment, said he was "very pleasantly surprised" when Deukmejian offered him the job on Thursday.
"I have always indicated that while I was interested in the job, I would be willing to do whatever the governor deemed appropriate," he said. "In this instance, he determined I was the best person for the job."
Vasquez said he considered transportation, jail overcrowding and crime to be the top issues he would face as a supervisor. He said he expects to be sworn in within "a couple of weeks."
A former police officer in Orange and a graduate of the University of Redlands, Vasquez in 1986 was named by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States.
In his only try for elective office, Vasquez finished fourth in the 1984 election for three seats on the Orange City Council. The top three vote-getters were incumbents. Vasquez's first election test for the Board of Supervisors will come in the June, 1988, primary.
Although Vasquez was on most Orange County political and business leaders' lists of top candidates for the job, many said they were surprised that Deukmejian did not review with them a so-called "short list" of candidates before making the appointment.
Republican Sen. John Seymour of Anaheim, for example, learned of the appointment Thursday as he was telling a reporter that he had not backed any of the candidates as yet but instead would wait until Deukmejian's staff whittled the list of applicants down to a handful. Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach) made similar comments Thursday morning.
Both senators, however, said they were pleased with the selection of Vasquez.
"I'm delighted," Bergeson said. "I think he's a person oriented to solutions, has experience in government, and I think he understands the problems. I think that's what brings about the solutions."
The position pays $58,000 a year.