Valerie Brown’s surprise decision today not to seek re-election to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors means the county will have seen almost a complete turnover in leadership over a four-year period. It also means that, after the next election, no one on the board will have served more than one term.
This a far cry from just a few years ago when the public had seen little turnover among county leaders since, well, Valerie Brown was appointed to fill the seat of 1st District Supervisor Mike Cale in August 2002.
Then in 2008, change came in a hurry with Efren Carrillo being elected to replace the retiring Mike Reilly and Shirlee Zane being elected to succeed the retiring Tim Smith. In June 2009, county Administrator Bob Deis stepped down as well.
Then late last year, voters responded to the retirements of longtime supervisors Paul Kelley and Mike Kerns by electing Mike McGuire and David Rabbitt respectively to fill their seats. The county has also seen changeover in other top positions including sheriff (now Steve Freitas), district attorney (Jill Ravitch), county counsel (Bruce Goldstein) and auditor-controller-treasurer-tax collector (Donna Dunk has been named as “interim” successor to Rod Dole who retired.) Meanwhile, the county is being overseen by Administrator Veronica Ferguson who has only served since the beginning of last year.
Change is good, but losing this kind of institutional memory during a short period of time can present significant challenges, particularly for a county that has made deep cuts in staff and services in recent months and is still struggling to adapt to a new economic environment. Is this too much change all at one time?
- Paul Gullixson
- Paul Gullixson