Colusa County officials raised their right hands on Monday and swore to discharge their duties to the best of their abilities.
Colusa County Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson administered the oath of office in Colusa County’s Historic Courthouse to District 5 Supervisor Denise Carter, District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp, Sheriff-Coroner Joe Garofalo, Assessor Arnie Gross, Auditor Peggy Scroggins, Clerk-Recorder Rose Gallo-Vasquez, Superintendent of Schools Mike West, and Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Ufkes Olivera, who were re-elected to their positions in the June 5 District Statewide Primary Election.
Longtime Colusa County Treasurer Dan Charter, who was unable to be present for the well-attended public event on Jan. 7, was administered his oath in a separate ceremony.
Supervisor J. Merced Corona, who was elected with nearly 60 percent of District 1’s support in the county’s only contested race of the June primary, also took the oath of office, one day before his first official meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
Corona, a retired law enforcement officer, has been preparing for duty by attending meetings since the election and studying the budgets and issues. He said he is looking forward to discharging his duties as a member of the elected legislative body of Colusa County.
“I’m excited to get started,” Corona said. “We have a lot of things on the table right now, and a lot of things the county is dealing with. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
Corona said he is looking forward to representing his district (Arbuckle area) the best he can, and his goal is to be assessable to the people who voted him into office.
Several returning officials spoke to their goals and challenges on Monday.
Sheriff Garofalo said his primary goal is getting the Colusa County Jail project back on track.
The county was awarded $20 million for the 96-bed, 26,600 square foot two-story facility, which will be built on the northeast portion of the existing Sheriff’s Office property. Construction was originally slated to begin last September, but fell behind.
Garofalo said one of his department’s biggest challenges is finding not only interested but qualified individuals, as law enforcement shortages continue to impact cities and towns everywhere.
“This is nothing new,” he said. “It’s proven over the years that hiring good quality people is a challenge, not only for us, but agencies up and down the state – whether you are big or small. I don’t know if the job market has shifted, or that people are just not as interested in law enforcement as they used to be. But I can say that the people we are hiring are outstanding, and they do a fantastic job.”
Garofalo said the Sheriff’s Office is currently down two positions on patrol, two in the jail, and three positions in the communications (dispatch) center – the last being among the hardest to fill.
“When you have 10 positions and you are down 30 percent, it’s challenging,” Garofalo said. “It puts the strain on other employees to pick up the slack.”
Supervisor Denise Carter said one of the county’s primary goals is seeing the Sites Reservoir project continue to move along.
“It think that is important,” she said. “Water is important.”
Both Garofalo and Carter said goals also include better communication with the public, via social media, direct communication, or other sources, particularly given the number of natural disasters that have occurred.
“It needs some improvement,” Carter said. “And that goes two ways. It goes beyond everyday communications on what’s happening to emergency communications, and what happens in an emergency, and how we communicate that to the residents. Based on what we see in our surrounding counties, there is a lot to learn, I think.”
As for challenges, Carter said fiscal responsibility is a priority.
“That is probably the biggest one, but also economic development,” she said.
Carter said flood and levee issues, FEMA remapping, and sustainable groundwater are also challenges facing the county as well as property owners. ■