LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Lake County administrative officer said Thursday she was quitting her job after six years.
Carol Huchingson’s last day with Lake County will be April 29.
She has been the county administrative officer since April 2016 and is the first woman to hold this position.
Her office released a lengthy, first-person statement from Huchingson on Thursday afternoon in which she promoted what she believed to be her accomplishments.
“I have now made the difficult decision to retire at the end of April. Looking back on my career, I am extremely grateful to all the people who have invested and believed in me, and for the opportunities I have had. ‘to help others develop their skills and meet the needs of the community,’ she said.
“When things end, new opportunities arise,” supervisor Bruno Sabatier told Lake County News in response to the announcement. “With the retirement of County Administrative Officer Huchingson, it will be essential for the board to make sound decisions for the stability and growth of the county, and I look forward to those discussions.”
Huchington did not specifically explain why she is retiring.
When asked the real reason for his departure – which Sabatier said was unexpected – his chief deputy, Matthew Rothstein, cited his intention to retire after “34 years of intensive and distinguished public service. “.
Rothstein said he expects the board to discuss the upcoming process soon.
Later Thursday afternoon, the Clerk of the Supervisory Board released next week’s agenda a day early. The agenda includes an untimed action point to review the recruitment strategy for a new county administrative officer.
By the time of his retirement, Huchingson will have spent 29 years with Lake County.
She started with the county in June 1993 and spent 22 years as director of social services.
Huchisson also worked for several months as the county’s Valley Valley Long-Term Fire Recovery Coordinator before the board decided to hire her as the county’s administrative officer in February 2016 from a pool of seven applicants. She officially took office two months later, following the retirement of Matt Perry.
Huchingson’s retirement announcement comes days after longtime county clerk/auditor-comptroller Cathy Saderlund confirmed she had elected not to seek re-election.
Huchington’s friend and colleague, Carmel Angelo, Mendocino County’s chief executive for 12 years, announced her retirement in January. His last day is March 19.
It’s also six months after Huchington finished going through the second wave of county increases during the pandemic. The raises included up to $5 million approved in October 2020 — during which Huchingson received a 30% raise — and another $16 million in September, when his raise totaled 54.5%, plus a raise of 2.5% longevity.
Sabatier told Lake County News he didn’t expect Hucherson to retire then, but knew Saderlund had weighed his final decision until Friday’s filing deadline. Saderlund told Lake County News that personal decisions over the past month led her to decide to retire at the end of her term.
Huchingson’s departure also comes as county department heads are in the process of developing their 2022-23 budget proposals, which will be presented in their initial form in June and are generally approved as part of the final recommended budget in September. .
It’s an effort that has traditionally been guided by the County Administrative Office, with Huchingson’s two immediate predecessors, Kelly Cox and Matt Perry, having brought extensive knowledge and experience to the budgeting process.
Sabatier acknowledged that the county will have to figure out how to handle budgeting in Huchisson’s
It is expected that Saderlund – whose term expires within the year – will continue to play an important role in this work.
A federal lawsuit is also still pending against the county and Huchingson as of July 2020 by Pamela Nichols, the county’s former director of human resources.
Nichols alleges racial discrimination, violation of his First Amendment free speech rights, retaliation for exercising free speech, wrongful termination and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She claims that Huchingson and the county terminated her employment after she exercised her free speech rights “regarding matters of public interest, including complaining of discrimination in the workplace.”
The case is expected to go to trial in March 2023, according to federal documents.
The supervisory board had a closed-door discussion of the matter on Tuesday. County Attorney Anita Grant did not respond to a request for comment on whether any action was taken following that closed session or if there were any additional updates on the case.
Huchingson’s statement on his departure is posted below in full.
“I have had the privilege of serving in local government for 34 years, the last 29 with Lake County. For two decades as Director of Social Services, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of incredible people who are dedicated to serving Lake County residents facing food and housing insecurity, and many many deep personal challenges. As the Valley Fire Recovery Coordinator, I stood alongside friends and neighbors as they took their first steps to recover and rebuild. I found great meaning in this work and I continue to value the relationships built during this time.
“However, there has been no greater honor than to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors to lead as County Administrative Officer. Since my appointment as CAO in 2016, I have worked for promote policies that serve every resident well, and recognize and celebrate the rich diversity of Lake County communities.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic caused historic disruption, for example, I fought for local residents to have a voice. Lake County was among the first to implement “hybrid” board meetings, inviting live attendance via Zoom and streaming meetings on social media and Lake County PEG TV.
“Leadership means making the best decisions available, regardless of the challenges that may arise. I have always sought to lead with that purpose and to take the right steps, even when what I was proposing was unpopular.
“It has been an important goal for me as CAO to ensure that county employees are valued, recognized for their outstanding contributions, and fairly compensated. Some disagreed with the county’s recent decisions to increase employee salaries. These actions have positioned us for decades of greater stability and better performance across our workforce. The determination of our Board of Directors to take on this responsibility was truly extraordinary.
“I have now made the difficult decision to retire at the end of April. When I look back on my career, I am extremely grateful to all the people who have invested and believed in me, and for the opportunities I have had. help others develop their skills and meet the needs of the community.
“Thank you everyone. I look forward to seeing Lake County continue to thrive.
– Carol J. Huchingson, County Administrative Officer