County intergovernmental relations post to be filled

February 28, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

Swirling in controversy from the beginning, the county's intergovernmental relations director position is about to be filled.

Some think the position is not needed when the state is about to cut local budgets. Others question the process of creating and filling the position.

The creation of the position was approved in November by the county Board of Supervisors by a 4-1 vote. Dissenting votes among the board are unusual.

Supervisor Wally Leimgruber opposed the position and continues to do so.

The governor has stated there will be local cutbacks, Leimgruber said. The position is not needed for a county of this size.


"I'm opposed to any additional level of bureaucracy that I feel is not needed," he said.

According to the job description, the director will plan, organize and direct intergovernmental affairs for the county. The director will analyze pending legislation, coordinate communication between the county executive officer, governmental agencies and county personnel and supervise the performance of assigned personnel.

Leimgruber said the county has lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. The county also has organizations that provide information on legislation that affects local government.

There will be other costs besides the salary such as hotels, meals and transportation and expenses for secretarial support staff, he said.

"This is a director position. How many employees will have to be put in place to support this position?" Leimgruber asked.

El Centro Mayor Larry Grogan said he heard there were questions about the position when it was announced last September. Grogan said he hopes the position would reflect the ethnicity and changing political attitude of Imperial County.

The person selected needs to be able to work with the party in power in Sacramento, he said, referring to Gov. Gray Davis, who is a Democrat, and the Democratic-controlled state legislature.

"I also hope the process does not penalize those that do not live in Imperial County as a first criteria, especially those with political expertise," Grogan said.

County officials say the selection process has been fair.

"We did a nationwide search and got over 100 applications," county Human Resources Assistant Director Dan DeVoy said.

Based on the job description, DeVoy narrowed the field to eight applicants. The first round of interviews was early this month, DeVoy said. He personally monitored the interviews.

"As a human resources monitor, I felt very good about the position," he said.

DeVoy said four people were on the first-round interview panel. They were:

· Tom Topuzes, a local business consultant and Imperial Valley Economic Development Corp. board member;

· Aurora Rayon, vice president and regional manager of First National Bank in Calexico;

· Steve Kyle, lobbyist with the California State Association of Counties;

· Ken Carpi of Carpi and Clay, a lobbying firm with offices in San Diego and Washington, D.C.

Panel members were selected by staff from human resources and the county executive office, he said.

"When we selected the interview panel, we looked for people who understand the job and what the county is looking for, according to the job description," DeVoy said.

The panel asked the same eight questions of everyone, he said.

County Executive Officer Ann Capela said there was some leeway in the interview questions. Panel members may have asked follow-up questions.

From the eight applicants initially selected, the field was narrowed to three. Those three had a second round of interviews, DeVoy said.

Capela said the second round interview panel was made up of herself, Board of Supervisors Chairman Hank Kuiper and Brawley City Manager Jerry Santillian, with DeVoy monitoring.

There are three finalists, one local man and two from out of town. All are very qualified, she said.

The final interviews are over and Capela said she is checking backgrounds and references. She hopes to have an announcement by March 12, or the week after.

"There was definitely knowledge that this process could be scrutinized, but in human resources, our goal is to always find the best fit for the job," DeVoy said.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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