By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Sonoma County’s Board of supervisors and three staff members are gathering in Washington, D.C. over the next several days at a National Association of Counties conference and to meet with the North Coast’s congressional representatives and federal officials.
Supervisors Valerie Brown, David Rabbitt and board Chairman Efren Carrillo arrived in the middle of the week. They will be joined by Supervisors Mike McGuire and Shirlee Zane, as well as County Administrator Veronica Ferguson, County Counsel Bruce Goldstein and Jim Leddy, the county’s governmental affairs manager.
The legislative conference is an annual event that draws thousands of county leaders from across the country.
The trip will cost taxpayers about $10,000 for lodging, meals and travel for seven members of the county delegation. Brown’s expenses will be paid by the counties’ association, according to Leddy, the county’s official spokesman.
Brown is an immediate past president and an executive officer with the counties’ association and will spend much of her time in policy discussions and meetings on national issues affecting counties.
Zane, a vice-chair of the association’s health care committee, also will spend much of the trip in discussions and meetings about health care policy and social services.
Carrillo, Rabbitt and McGuire will focus on securing support and federal funding for several expensive county water projects, Leddy said. Those include the $150 million North Bay Water Reuse Authority, a joint operation with the counties of Napa and Marin to increase use of recycled water, and the $100 million study and modifications to river flows in the Russian River intended to benefit endangered salmon and threatened steelhead.
Most of the county delegation also will participate in meetings with Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and staff members in the offices of California senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
Goldstein, an expert on tribal policy and casino issues, will spend much of his time in meetings on those matters.
Ferguson, a vice president with the National Association of County Administrators, will dedicate part of her time to meetings with that group.
The trip comes on the heels of a separate visit to Washington by Carrillo, Zane and Leddy two weeks ago. That trip focused on securing federal funding for a new fleet of low-emission buses, transportation for seniors and wildfire hazard reduction, among other issues.
Carrillo defended the travels as an “investment” that paid back dividends in federal money and legislative and administrative support for county efforts.
“It’s critical for us as elected officials to continue to ensure that we have the support of the federal government,” he said.
The counties’ conference ends Wednesday, but several county officials will be returning home before then, Leddy said.
The Board of Supervisors does not meet next week.