A divided Board of Supervisors votes 5-0 for a county administrator. That’s a good sign

By The Tribune Editorial Board

November 07, 2017 5:40 PM

Good choice, Board of Supervisors. And congratulations, Wade Horton.

In case you missed the news, Horton, county public works director for the past three years, has been chosen to be the new chief administrative officer.

He replaces Dan Buckshi, who resigned in June to become city manager of Walnut Creek, amid allegations that he was fed up with the county’s dysfunctional politics.

Two of the county supervisors — Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill — blamed Buckshi’s departure on a hostile work environment created by the other three supervisors.

“Dan was subject to too many months of hostile, disrespectful treatment by Supervisors Lynn Compton and Debbie Arnold, which was abetted by Supervisor John Peschong,” Hill wrote in a Tribune Viewpoint.

There’s no question that Horton takes charge during one of the more tumultuous periods in recent county history; there’s a sharp ideological split on the board that can leave county staff caught in the middle.

At least Horton knows what he’s in for — he’s often appeared before the board to present projects — and he’s no stranger to controversy. As head of the Public Works Department, he played a key role in completing the Los Osos Sewer Project, which may be the single most contentious county issue of the past 25 years.

There are plenty of other challenges ahead: The Oceano Dunes dust problem. Commercial marijuana. Water policy. Housing. Budget. Closure of Diablo Canyon.

We believe Horton is up to the job. He’s smart, extremely professional, even-handed and responsive; in fact, he’s never failed to return a phone call or email. And we can’t recall ever seeing him flustered.

But don’t take our word. Here’s the best endorsement of all: The Board of Supervisors — so bitterly divided on many issues — unanimously approved his appointment.

For that, we toss five kumbaya bouquets to the board. A sixth, for good luck, goes to Horton.

Bouquets and brickbats appear occasionally in The Tribune. If there’s something (or someone) you would like to honor with a bouquet or chastise with a brickbat, email your idea to sfinucane@thetribunenews.com.

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