Strong leadership manifests itself in several ways. One of them is having a strong bench, to borrow a sports analogy, so that there are qualified successors available to move up when a department head or even the top executive departs.
Twice in the past two years, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors has filled its chief executive officer post from within. After Rick Robinsons retirement at the end of 2011, Monica Nino, one of his top assistants, became the CEO.
With Ninos move to San Joaquin County last summer, the board did a major search and found the best qualified candidate right there on the sixth floor of Tenth Street Place. Interim CEO Stan Risen last week was named to the post permanently on a unanimous vote.
Robinson gets some of the credit for building a strong core in the chief executives office. He was a strong mentor to many. And the elected supervisors get some of the credit because they function as overseers and policymakers, not getting overly involved in the day-to-day operations. Stanislaus County weathered the rough financial years by carefully monitoring its budgets. The county had to make many cuts, but did so quickly, which saved money in the long run. (Denair Unified School District, in sharp contrast, tried to avoid any pain and has ended up on the brink of a state takeover.)
Finally, Risen has been a capable leader. He has experience with most aspects of the complex web of county services. And he stands out in that he spent time as an elected official, serving on the Ceres City Council for 11 years. We congratulate Risen on his selection and hope that he will, in turn, continue to develop a strong bench for the county for the years to come.