It was a day of celebration Oct. 25 at Seaside City Hall, as scores of local dignitaries, police officers and residents gathered on the lawn by Canyon Del Rey for the official swearing-in ceremony of Seaside Police Chief Nick Borges.
And the event was purely ceremonial in intent—Borges was officially promoted to the role in August, after having served as acting police chief for a year—but it felt like something more than just a ceremony. It felt like an initiation, a rite of passage where the powers that be in Seaside told Borges, implicitly: We think you’re the right man for this job, we wanted you to get this job, but please, don’t let us down.
Former city council member Helen Rucker, a longtime Seaside community activist, was among those who spoke, and said when she saw him playing basketball with residents at Del Monte Manor—the largest affordable housing complex on the Monterey Peninsula—”it made my heart sing.
“I knew he would help make Seaside the Seaside we want it to be,” Rucker said. “We have had to work for what we’ve got, and we got the best.”
Congressman Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, was also in attendance, and was invited to offer a few words as well, though he said he hadn’t planned for that eventuality.
He praised Borges, who grew up in and lives in Monterey, as “a local boy done good,” while also emphasizing that the job of police chief is not to be a “warrior” for Seaside, but a “guardian” of its residents.
City Manager Jaime Fontes, at the outset of the ceremony, injected some levity. Fontes said, when interviewing Borges for the job this past summer—Fontes promoted Borges from acting chief to chief—he asked, “What if you had to arrest your wife?” Borges’ response, Fontes said, was, “‘I’d call for backup!’”
Fontes quipped that’s when he knew Borges was the right man for the job.
When it came time for Borges to speak, he emphasized, as he often does, his focus on building relationships with Seaside residents.
“I care about this community beyond just keeping people safe,” Borges said. “We can engage in people’s lives.”