ANOTHER VIEW: Couch's Corner
Getting the right people in place
June 20, 2019 | View PDF
Courtesy Office of Supervisor David Couch
Couch's Corner has been my attempt to keep the community updated and to explain how County government works and how it affects you. It is my hope that through these articles and the various other forums for which we send the community info and updates, you will be more informed about the issues and decisions we make.
This week, I wanted to introduce our new fire chief, David Witt, and explain how important it is for the Board of Supervisors to make good choices regarding your department heads. You see, in the county form of government, your department heads run their departments and take care of the day-to-day operations and details. As much as folks might think all decisions come through the elected officials, so many matters are worked out at the department level.
It is critically important that we choose the right people to run these departments and to manage the details. Your new fire chief has a tough job to do, but I am confident he is the person for the job. As The Bakersfield Californian[END ITAL] stated this week, he "inherits a department with an estimated $8.8 million structural deficit and a union that has come to an impasse in contract negotiations with county officials." But Dave Nelson, the union president, says Witt is a "man of honor" with a "good vision of where the department needs to be." In my own conversations with Chief Witt, I have the same optimism and expectations.
Those traits are so needed at this time. Managing an $8.8 million deficit and a union at impasse will require the strongest leadership skills. Somehow, he has to solve the budget deficit and lift morale simultaneously. As a county supervisor, I intend to support Chief Witt and the Fire Department to help them achieve these seemingly contrasting objectives.
It's not just the challenge of the fire chief. As the County enters the 4th and hopefully last year of its plan to get rid of its structural deficit (caused by the recession of 2008 and the drop in oil prices), all departments, and the county as a whole, have had to find ways to do more with less. This has been the daunting task we have faced over these past years of service to you.
It would have been easy to ignore this budget deficit the county faced and kick the can down the road, spending without fiscal responsibility, but then your children (and mine) would have faced even more dire circumstances later. This was not an option.
That is why selecting department heads like Chief Witt makes sense. We can't give our deserving firefighters and our community money we don't have and programs we can't fund, but with the right people, and the right choices, we can put ourselves in a position where we can. It is through prosperity that we can all benefit, and that is the path we are on.
Got any questions about this or any District 4 matter? Call us at 661-868-3680 or email us at [email protected]
David Couch represents the 4th District on the county Board of Supervisors.