Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Tuesday, Jan. 9 @ 3:14 p.m. / Local Government

Dean Wilson Assumes Del Norte Board of Supervisors Chair Role Ahead of Strategic Plan Development

After assuming his new role as Del Norte County Board of Supervisors chairman on Tuesday, Dean Wilson hearkened back to one of the final decisions he and his colleagues made in 2023.

On Dec. 29, Wilson and his colleagues directed county staff to move forward with developing a strategic plan. The District 5 representative said creating such a plan had been a priority of his since he ran for election in 2022.

At that meeting, Wilson said he favored an option to develop the plan in-house with an outside facilitator, though his colleagues were also amenable to having county staff develop the plan without a third-party consultant.

On Tuesday, Wilson, who succeeded District 1 Supervisor Darrin Short as Board chairman, said such a plan will allow Del Norte to be proactive instead of reactive.

“We have some issues that are going to be critical on how Del Norte County is going to strategically determine what our priorities are [and] what we need as a county going forward to derive economic growth and also to deal with the changes that are coming out of legislation and short falls in the state that always seem to run downhill to the counties,” Wilson said. “This strategic plan will help us to look at those things and be proactive instead of reactive. It’ll also allow this Board to be more insightful and assist the CAO and other department heads on where we are going to be moving forward and where the priorities need to be placed.”

Assistant County Administrative Officer Randy Hooper brought up a plethora ongoing initiatives when he introduced the notion of forming a strategic plan to county supervisors on Dec. 29.

Those issues include an analysis of the state’s increasing minimum wage and how it will impact the county’s structural organization — something also brought up at the Dec. 29 meeting. Other initiatives include the jail rehabilitation project; establishing a new public defender’s office; updating the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, or CEDS, which expires this year; and updating the county’s general plan.

“The general plan was last updated in 2003,” Hooper said. “That’s over 20 years ago.”

Hooper also noted that collective bargaining is going on with the Del Norte County Employees Association SEIU Local 1021, the Sheriff’s Employees Association, mid-management group and with employee groups that are unrepresented by a local union. County fees also need updating and in March, Del Norte will be in the process of updating its budget for the next fiscal year.

“As new initiatives get added, it just gets added to this list,” the assistant CAO told supervisors. “If we don’t have a strategy for addressing those things, maybe nothing will ever be done or it will take longer than it should.”

Hooper also asked the Board of Supervisors to consider what initiatives should be included in the strategic plan and how many. County supervisors should also consider how resources are allocated and how such a plan will be implemented, Hooper said.

The assistant CAO also presented the county with three options: One, to develop the strategic plan completely in-house; two, to develop the plan in-house but with an outside facilitator; and three, to have processed outsourced to a consultant.

Hooper said he hoped to bring strategic plan updates back before the Board of Supervisors in January and February of each year after the legislative platform is adopted. The Board of Supervisors could then adopt the plan in March so it can be included in the county’s annual budget, Hooper said.

The assistant CAO also urged supervisors to look at Nevada County’s efforts to develop a strategic plan — an endeavor both Wilson and his colleague, District 2 Supervisor Valerie Starkey, were both impressed with.

“One thing about Nevada County that is very interesting is every January they have a workshop and their Board in January decides the projects they want accomplish that year,” Starkey told her colleagues, adding that what Hooper presented to the Board on Dec. 29 was what she had been wanting for about three years.

“And then throughout the year, they’re bringing that information forward to the public and the public gets a chance to be engaged in it as well. This is a blueprint for us to be able to actually see the accomplishments. This is going to be the report card on what projects we propose with input of the public and how we are able to accomplish them.”

Starkey also called for a statistical analysis across county departments. She used the fact that the county has two planners currently, asking rhetorically how many permits they approve each year. This will help the county decide if they’re spending money where it needs to or if it should be adjusting, she said.

“Nevada County provides that report card,” she said. “Another one I would advise people to look into is Marin County. We’ll never be as rich as Marin County, however it’s just a really good format. It explains the statistics related to how the county is spending its money and it’s all laid out there.”

On Tuesday, in addition to approving Wilson as chairman, the Board of Supervisors appointed District 4 representative Joey Borges as vice chair. Borges was chosen as vice chair over Starkey, who had served in the position in 2023 and was nominated for a second year by Short.

Before Borges nominated Wilson to serve as chair, Starkey had nominated Short to continue in the role for 2024.

Upon relinquishing his chair seat, Short mentioned the things he and his colleagues had a hand in accomplishing the previous year.

This includes obtaining encampment resolution funding to move forward on a plan to address homelessness, installing street lights and holding presentations from the various county departments ahead of adopting the 2023-24 budget.

“Mostly we worked respectfully with each other,” Short said. “We had engaging and passionate discourse, but at the end of the day we respect each other and our opinions while we may not always agree.”


© 2024 Lost Coast Communications Contact: