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Letters for sheriff appointment due Friday

Those interested in submitting a letter of interest in becoming the next Plumas County Sheriff have until this Friday to apply.

Letters expressing interest and stating applicable qualifications must be turned in to the Plumas County Human Resources Department in the Plumas County Courthouse (520 Main St., Quincy, CA 95971} before close of day Friday, Oct. 11. Any candidate must not only have the appropriate qualifications in law enforcement but must also be a registered voter.

Letters of recommendation can also be sent to the same address.

For additional information on necessary qualifications, potential candidates can also contact HR at 283-6444.

HR will screen out any unqualified candidates before passing application letters on to supervisors.

Members of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors discussed appropriate dates, questions and potential format for interviews at the regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 1.

The process

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said that the process is important. If they were looking for a candidate for a short term then they could “find a short way to fill it.”

But since the appointment is for three years, they needed to set up a procedure, Thrall added. “We need to have this done for everyone’s sake,” she said.

“I’ve been through this before,” said Supervisor Lori Simpson. That elected position was for the auditor/controller position. There was only one applicant, Roberta Allen, and she successfully gained the position.

Plumas County Council Craig Settlemire said that at some point supervisors needed to include a public comment period. That could be at the beginning before interviews start or at the end. The public is not welcome to participate in dialog with supervisors or ask candidates questions. The Brown Act requires a comment period. Settlemire was responding to a question Simpson asked.

“Who will write up the questions?” Simpson also asked.

Settlemire said the process, with a few exceptions, was completely up to the board. Supervisors could determine how to structure the process.

He suggested that supervisors write the questions and then submit them to Human Resources. He and Human Resources Director Nancy Selvage would then review the questions. They needed to ensure that supervisors would stay away from questions that weren’t relevant to the job or inappropriate.

Once the questions were reviewed they would be returned to supervisors so they could determine which questions they wanted to ask.

“I’ve been thinking about this,” Simpson said about the process. She was concerned that there would be a number of candidates. Once one candidate was interviewed the rest could gain access to the questions. She asked if it would be appropriate to give the candidates the questions in advance of the interviews.

Settlemire said they might have the candidates wait outside the boardroom and approach the questioning on an honor system. By that, he meant they would stay away from watching the Livestream of the interviews on their cell phones.

Simpson thought they might have one round of general questions and a second round of interviews on more specific issues.

Thrall agreed saying they could have one round of interviews and then a second if necessary. “I don’t think it will be that difficult,” she said.

Simpson also asked if they needed to use a rating sheet similar to the ones used when interviewing department heads.

Settlemire said supervisors could do that, but that is really a process intended for civil service classifications, not an elected official position.

At this point Supervisor and Chairperson Kevin Goss suggested that they have all candidates in the room at the same time and “go right down the row” with each question.

Supervisors seemed to like that suggestion and Thrall once again pitched the idea of giving candidates the questions in advance. After all, she said, “there are no trick questions.”

Dates

The deadline for letters is Friday, Oct. 11, at 5 p.m.

Interviews are set for a special Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday, Oct. 22, beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 is set aside if additional interviews are needed.

Sheriff’s recommendation

Supervisors invited the sheriff to share his opinions on the process surrounding selection of his successor.

Hagwood said he felt very strongly that a very transparent vetting of all candidates was necessary.

He said it was important for supervisors to take their time in making their selection. Supervisors’ selection would have a tremendous impact on others, he said. “I appreciate the seriousness that you’re (using) addressing this issue,” he said.

Background

Three ways to select a successor to Sheriff Greg Hagwood were discussed at the final September meeting of the board.

County Counsel Settlemire explained to supervisors Sept. 17 that they could go ahead and appoint a new sheriff, accept letters of interest and do interviews in an open session, or hold a special election. Supervisors agreed that accepting letters was the preferred choice. Interviews must be conducted in an open session because the position of sheriff is an elected one.

At that meeting supervisors agreed to have candidate submit letters of interest.

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