Stanislaus County supervisors divided on how to replace CEO

kcarlson@modbee.comJuly 25, 2013 

BA Monica Nino 1

(BART AH YOU/bahyou@modbee.com) Stanislaus County CEO Monica Nino at board meeting, Tuesday morning. January 10, 2012

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  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
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    E-mail: kcarlson@modbee.com

— Stanislaus County supervisors appear to be divided over an in-house promotion or conducting a full-blown search to find a chief executive officer.

The board will talk about finding a successor for Monica Nino in a closed-door session Tuesday. Last month, Nino accepted an offer to work as the top administrator for San Joaquin County and has asked to start her new job the second week in September.

County leaders have said they're willing to amend Nino's employment contract to waive a requirement that she give six months' notice.

Supervisors Terry Withrow and Jim DeMartini said they want to give the CEO job to Assistant Executive Officer Stan Risen and save the county the expense of an executive search. Risen would need one more vote from the five-member board, though no hiring decision is expected Tuesday, board Chairman Vito Chiesa said.

Risen said Thursday he didn't wish to comment.

Chiesa and Supervisor Dick Monteith said they owe it to the public to conduct a recruitment, which would invite applications from internal and outside candidates.

"We have a person who may be interested, and that's great, but in all fairness we should have a search," Monteith said Thursday. "It won't cost a great amount of money. We should show our citizens we are searching for the best person we can get."

Withrow reasoned that the county would not skip a beat if the position was filled by promotion. "Time-wise, it would be great if we can move someone right into the spot," he said.

Supervisor Bill O'Brien would seem to have the deciding vote. The board member said Thursday he wants to weigh the options.

"Hopefully, we can appoint an interim (CEO) in the short term and then have some sort of application process or a search committee," O'Brien said.

The county considered applicants from across the country before voting 3-2 in November 2011 to give the job to Nino, a 25-year veteran of the county staff. Risen was the second choice, getting votes from DeMartini and Withrow.

Nino served as CEO for 18 months before accepting the job offer from San Joaquin County. The Modesto native said she couldn't pass up the opportunity to manage a county with a 30 percent larger budget and bigger staff.

Chiesa said he wanted the board to discuss the leadership position after Monteith returned from a three-week trip to Russia and the Baltic nations. Monteith returned early this week and was able to attend Tuesday's board meeting.

Monteith said there are advantages to training staff to take over the county's high-level management positions. Seasoned staff understand the county's philosophy, its challenges and the government landscape in California.

On the other hand, the county should not send the message to qualified applicants that it's a done deal, even though an in-house candidate is waiting in the wings, he said.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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