#TinaTuesday goes to Washington. Ok, maybe not Washington, but I did get to go to our non-partisan County Board of Supervisors meeting and say a few words about #TinaTuesday. 😊 For this week's #TinaTuesday, I had the pleasure of sitting down with long-time chamber member and County Supervisor, Karen Mitchoff. Before I talk about what our County Board of Supervisors does (which is more than I actually knew), let me share with you a little of Karen's background and what lead her to where she is now.
Karen was born in Portland, Oregon but in 1965 her family moved here to our little city of Pleasant Hill, and she has been here ever since. Karen's attraction to law and politics started for her back when she was attending 1st grade in Oregon, when her class held a mock election between Nixon and Kennedy (who were both running for President at the time), with a little felt donkey and elephant representing both sides of the aisle. In her class that day, Nixon won the presidency (but not in real life, that election was won by Kennedy, as we all know). This experience began Karen's fascination with government and public service, and as you'll see in a moment, her lifelong journey. Karen started her public service in 1981 working for the Sherriff-Coroner Richard Rainey, then went on to serve as Chief of Staff for Supervisors Sunne Wright McPeak and Mark DeSaulnier (Yep, you read that right. Our current Congressman, Mark DeSaulnier, was a County Supervisor at one time and Karen was his Chief of Staff). She's served on the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District Board of Directors, the PH Planning Commission, and the PH Citizen's Advisory Committee on Redevelopment. In 2008, Karen was elected to the Pleasant Hill City Council, then in 2010 she ran for and was elected County Supervisor, District IV (District IV contains the cities of Clayton, Concord, Pleasant Hill and part of Walnut Creek, as well as the unincorporated community of Contra Costa Centre), and this year (2018) she is up for re-election. As you can see, Karen has a vast array of experience both at the local and regional levels.
Here are a few fun facts about Karen:
- Karen was a Disco Queen back in the day
- She used to wear shoes called "Bear Traps," which apparently made it easier to disco. Never had heard of them myself.
- She loves animals
- And she's an avid reader, and tries to read at least 5 books/month.
So, you may be asking... What does a County Board of Supervisors do? Well, I thought you'd never ask. A board of supervisors is a governing body that oversees the operation of county government. Similar to a city council, a board of supervisors has legislative, executive, and quasi-judicial powers. The important difference is that a county is an administrative division of a state, whereas a city is a municipal corporation; thus, counties implement and, as necessary, refine the local application of state law and public policy, while cities produce and implement their own local laws and public policy (subject to the overriding authority of state law). Boards may pass and repeal laws, generally called ordinances. Depending on the state, and the subject matter of the law, these laws may apply to the entire county or to only unincorporated areas not within the jurisdiction of a city. The board is also responsible for approving the county budget. County governments may collect state taxes and, in some states, they may also levy taxes, such as property or sales tax. Boards oversee county departments. Many boards independently appoint department heads. Some department heads, like the sheriff or district attorney, are elected separately by the electorate; however, the board still controls these departments' budgets. The Board of Supervisors oversees many County Departments like Animal Services, Libraries, Fire, Transportation, Health Services, just to name a few. Interesting fact: Did you know the County oversees the calibration of the taxi meters and scales in the grocery stores? Yep, they make sure we aren't being over-charged.
Karen has seen and been a part of many changes during her years in public service, and continues to do so by championing issues like protecting the Delta, enhancing our infrastructure and transportation systems, improving clean air standards as well as implementing economic development opportunities. Also, Karen will be the first one to tell you how amazing her staff is (I agree wholeheartedly), and how vital they are to her role as County Supervisor. Thank you Karen, for taking the time to educate me on all that the County Board of Supervisors does for Contra Costa County as well as inviting me to the Board of Supervisors Meeting today. I continue to be amazed and impressed by your leadership, and I am grateful for your many years of service, past and future, and helping to make our community a great place to live and work.