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Colleagues honor retiring Sonoma County Supervisor Brown


Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday morning honored one of their own, Valerie Brown, who is set to retire at the end of this year after 10 years on the county board.

Chairwoman Shirlee Zane called Brown, the county’s only current two-term supervisor, a “historian, mentor and role model” for the board.

“I believe you have made a huge difference not just locally but nationally,” Zane said.

Valerie Brown.

A former state assemblywoman and Sonoma mayor, Brown, 67, is one of the few county leaders with state and national experience. She was president of the National Association of Counties in 2009-10 and serves on a national public health advisory group for a White House council overseeing health promotion and disease prevention.

Supervisor David Rabbitt called that range of experience vital to the county during Brown’s tenure. “You have left an indelible mark on this county,” he said.

Brown was appointed by Governor Gray Davis to the Board of Supervisors in 2002 to fill a vacancy in the 1st District seat, representing Sonoma, Sonoma Valley and eastern Santa Rosa. She prevailed in two elections, in 2004 and 2008, before deciding not to seek re-election.

Supervisor-elect Susan Gorin, who topped fellow Santa Rosa City councilman John Sawyer in last month’s election, is set to take over Brown’s seat at the start of next year.

As a supervisor, Brown has gained recognition as a leader on health care, energy efficiency, climate protection and social welfare programs.

County Counsel Bruce Goldstein said she was the board member he and others in his office often relied on dealing with complex government issues. “You’re the one that counsel seeks counsel from,” Goldstein said. “That’s going to be sorely missed.”

Supervisor Mike McGuire called her the “rock of this board” and Supervisor Efren Carrillo said she had set the bar high for current and future board members.

A self-described moderate, Brown closed out the 20-minute recognition by urging her colleagues to follow a similar path.

“If you’re a left-wing Democrat or a right-wing Republican, nobody needs to sit down and talk with you because they already know who you are,” she said. “You have to be in the middle.”

She ended by thanking fellow supervisors, county staff and others she said had guided and shaped her county career.

“Goodbyes are really hard and it seems like I’ve been experiencing them for two months now,” she said. “Thank you for making my time here a blessing. I’m so grateful to all of you.”

10 Responses to “Colleagues honor retiring Sonoma County Supervisor Brown”

  1. Danielle says:

    Pity to see an unpopular politician finally retire.

  2. James Bennett says:

    No comment at this time.

  3. JB says:

    @James Bennett


    There’s a rumor in the wind suggesting that a recall effort is afoot to oust Zane. Have you heard of it. Would you know how to become involved?

  4. James Bennett says:

    If Zane’s mentor is Brown, we’re in big trouble…

    Oh wait-we are in big trouble.

  5. Snarky says:

    Politicians and their supporters live in a vacuum and rarely understand the real world.

    Why should they? They get a regular paycheck even though they don’t understand half of what they are pretending to understand.

  6. Critic at Large says:

    Good old Valerie was never in the “middle.” She is and always was from the Marxist, socialist school of government. Typical of leftists, she is arrogant, dismissive, and always demanding it her way or the highway.

    The County will not miss her. The bad news is her replacement comes from the same school of political thought and is tied just as tightly to her friends in SEIU who put both of them in power and kept them there.

  7. James Bennett says:

    Valerie Brown is a member on the national board of ICLEI-USA.

    Susan Gorin wants to follow in her foot steps.

    I guess if keeping your own paycheck “sustainable” is more important than your constituents:
    Economy, property rights, freedoms, civil rights, health (yes I said health), small business rights, future, education, well being, your community’s sovereignty and representation, then…
    it’s OK.

    They don’t print enough money to get me to do it, never.

  8. Elephant says:

    Ah yes. I remember Brown’s appointment to the BoS in 2002 very well. She was living in LA working as a lobbyist. She remained in LA for the first year or two and only came up on Tuesdays for meetings. Nobody even her staff could get a hold of her. And yes you do have to live in your supervisorial district. Just a slight oversight, right?

    Valerie Brown is a Democrat in name only and I am completely overjoyed to see her gone. Now with Susan Gorin, Sonoma County MIGHT be able to shed some of it’s antiquated ways and move into the 21st century. The existing status quo in Sonoma County politics has got to go.

  9. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I’m so glad she’s going. The last time she ran I voted for Will. She claims to be a Democrat but likes to hang out with the high and mighty and was inaccessible to much of the voters. The few times I was able to talk to her about issues she was very condescending and not very forthcoming. I wrote her about some concerns and with some ideas many times without one recognition of my letters, not even a “form” letter thanking me for my input.

    I’m so glad Susan Gorin will replace her. Hopefully, she will be accessible and listen to her district’s constituents, all of them, not just the rich winery businesses.

  10. GAJ says:

    “I believe you have made a huge difference not just locally but nationally,” Zane said.

    She sure did; she voted in the gold plated pensions for the elite Unions and for upper management…and she will benefit directly in her retirement.

    Quite a legacy of “good work” to be sure:

    “The County’s cost for pensions as a percentage of payroll has climbed from 7.4% in 2002, when the benefit increases were enacted, to 32.6% in 2011, a 440% increase.”