A new chief administrative officer
Last updated 4/20/2023 at 7:46pm
Supervisor Jim Desmond
While most of the attention at the County Board of Supervisors has been on finding a replacement for District 4, another vacancy is just as vital. The chief administrative officer (CAO) is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the county government and implementing the policies and directives of the County Board of Supervisors. The CAO is similar to the CEO of a business or a strong city manager.
Here's the breakdown of how it works. The residents of San Diego County are ultimately in charge. You elect the Board of Supervisors. The Supervisors are essentially the Board of Directors, but five people can't run the organization. So, administratively, and operationally, the CAO is at the top of the county's org chart. They are ultimately responsible for the performance of the county's 20,000-person workforce and the $8 billion budget.
The CAO should not be a political position. The CAO instead prioritizes the interests of the County of San Diego and the people it serves rather than advancing a particular political agenda or serving the interests of a specific political party or individual.
Helen Robbins-Meyer is the current CAO and she will be retiring shortly. It’s a very difficult leadership and management position, and I believe she’s done a great job for the county. While different voices and people have come on the board, she’s continued putting the interests of San Diegans first.
As we move forward, the chief administrative officer's hiring process should be completely restarted to exclude any of Nathan Fletcher's influence. The hiring process should also be done in a transparent way that allows San Diegans a chance to weigh in.