April 15, 2024

Santa Clara County appoints their top lawyer as new CEO

Santa Clara County appoints their top lawyer as new CEO

A longtime attorney for Santa Clara County will turn into its new CEO, commanding 1 of the region’s most strong area governing administration posts for an space with huge financial affect as the world’s technologies capitol.

James R. Williams, who has served as county counsel because 2016, was appointed to the placement by the Board of Supervisors in shut session on Oct. 17 and was formally verified 4-1 at Tuesday’s community board assembly. Williams, 38, will swap Jeff Smith, who has served as county executive since 2009.

Regardless of the historic appointment — Williams will be the youngest county government in Santa Clara County heritage and also the initially particular person of color to hold the posture — it was not with out controversy. Some county officers stated the appointment course of action lacked transparency, main just one supervisor to vote no throughout Tuesday’s conference.

The CEO position oversees 1.9 million county citizens, more than 20,000 county personnel and a gargantuan $11 billion spending budget, equivalent to the gross domestic product of the Bahamas. Unlike neighboring counties, Santa Clara also has an considerable health and fitness treatment infrastructure that consists of three hospitals.

Williams will get the job done intently with the 5-member governing board, helping carry out policy and finances conclusions whilst also running 42 diverse county places of work.

“I’m immensely honored and energized,” Williams reported in an interview. “I’m unquestionably energized to acquire on this new obstacle.”

Smith, who will vacate the business on July 1 of following year, described Williams as incredibly talented.

“James has a large amount of working experience. So I assume it is a great preference.” Smith, 68, stated for the duration of Tuesday’s board meeting in which he also introduced he has produced Parkinson’s, a brain dysfunction that predominantly has an effect on motor expertise. He reported that it has not impacted his obligations as county executive.

SAN JOSE - JUNE 10: Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith speaks during a press conference in which the county issued orders for large health care providers to provide more access for COVID-19 testing for patients in high-risk categories at the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (Randy Vazquez / Bay Area News Group)
SAN JOSE – JUNE 10: Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith speaks through a push meeting in which the county issued orders for substantial well being care vendors to present more obtain for COVID-19 tests for patients in higher-chance classes at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office environment in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (Randy Vazquez / Bay Region News Team) 

The present-day CEO also mentioned that Williams’ appointment aids counter the disruption that other county departments have not long ago confronted. On Monday, Sheriff Laurie Smith declared she would instantly retire in the wake of a civil corruption demo. Williams’ salary will be set at 10% higher than the county’s main running officer, or $460,373.

Although the board formalized Williams’ appointment in mid-October, Smith’s retirement announcement on Oct. 27 did not mention that the board now had observed a replacement.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who is jogging for the San Jose mayor’s seat, voted against Williams’ appointment, nevertheless she claimed that she considered he was experienced for the part.

“I believe we are missing an opportunity to interact with the group,” Chavez stated, suggesting at a person point to delay the appointment by two months so additional members of the public could weigh in.

Longtime Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, who has served in his part due to the fact 1994, stated that the absence of general public discussion about who would switch Smith was “totally inconsistent” with what has occurred in the earlier.

“My issue is that it is not an open, clear and deliberative method,” Stone reported.

He reported he did not automatically oppose Williams as the new CEO but thought there should really be far more community deliberations for these an extremely vital placement.

Johnny Khamis, a applicant in the county’s Supervisorial District 1 race, explained the process as “disgusting.”

“He may well be the most effective guy for the task,” stated Khamis, a former San Jose councilmember. “They did not even have any community discussion on why he’s the most effective for the work. Why cannot we have neighborhood business weigh in? What are they fearful of?”

Both Williams and Smith deferred issues about the choosing procedure to board users, even though Williams said decisions about board appointments are “always in closed session.”

During Monday’s meeting, Supervisor Susan Ellenberg defended the final decision.

“The board sets way, tone and plan for this business,” she said. “And we do that in general public. We make all personnel decisions about any of the board-appointed positions in closed session in accordance with the Ralph M. Brown Act.”

Mike Wasserman did not answer to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Supervisor Otto Lee’s business office declined to comment. A spokesperson for Chavez’s place of work deferred to the supervisors’ comments in the course of Tuesday’s conference, though a spokesperson for Joe Simitian deferred to a information release despatched out Tuesday by the county.

A boy or girl of immigrants from Iran and India and raised by a solitary mother, Williams attained his law diploma from Stanford College. Williams’ career with the county started off in 2010 when he was employed as a Social Justice & Impression Litigation Fellow and afterwards became Deputy County Counsel.

During Williams’ six many years major the county counsel’s office environment, he oversaw litigation versus a number of Trump Administration govt orders and inherited legal troubles versus equally direct paint and pharmaceutical companies.

Additional not long ago, Williams worked with the county’s health department to implement general public health orders for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic that were some of the strictest in the location — and often controversial. The county aided drive other leaders in the Bay Spot to be the initially in the nation to lock down 6 million people and banned organized athletics from accumulating for a transient interval in late 2020.

The county has also pursued lawful action from businesses and other entities that have refused to abide by their pandemic wellness orders.