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Home arrow Opinion arrow New year and new leaders are reasons for optimism

New year and new leaders are reasons for optimism

Although Tuolumne County's slate isn't completely clean, it will begin the 2007 with a host of new leaders:

•Teri Murrison, elected last month, will be sworn in as District 3 supervisor next week — thus ending more than a year during which the Twain Harte-Tuolumne area has been without board representation.

•Sheriff Jim Mele, sworn in last month to complete the retired Dick Rogers' unexpired term, will begin his first elected term at the same time.

•Assistant Assessor Ken Caetano, elected without opposition last month, will take over for his boss of 28 years, Dave Wynne.

•County Administrator Craig Pedro, appointed last summer replace C. Brent Wallace, begins his first full year in office.

•County Clerk Debi Russell, appointed early last year to replace the retiring Tim Johnson and subsequently voted into office without opposition — begins her first elected term.

The Tuolumne Utilities District also begins the year with new leadership. With the retirement of General Manager Gary Egger and Directors Judy Delbon and Louise Giersch, the district loses decades of experience. Taking over are General Manager Pete Kampa and Directors Joseph Day and Delbert Rotelli.

In Calaveras County, Russ Thomas, who won a bitterly contested election over incumbent Victoria Erickson in November, will join a Board of Supervisors sure to deal with a number of crucial growth issues in the next 12 months.

As usual, changes in leadership are a double-edged sword. Lost with retirement and even with election loss is experience. Assessor Wynne alone takes 28 years with him, although the fact that Caetano has been his right-hand man for nearly as long softens the blow.

Likewise Pedro, Mele and Russell brought to office with them decades of Tuolumne County and governmental experience.

The changing guard has hit TUD particularly hard: Directors Delbon and Giersch together served nearly 20 years on the district board and Egger alone has more than 30 years of experience in engineering and administration.

On the plus side, new leaders can bring new ideas and fresh approaches.

Egger's successor, Pete Kampa, had an exemplary record with the Twain Harte Community Services District. And new Directors Day and Rotelli have an impressive combination of experience and education.

With the pending takeover of the troubled Matt Dillon Water Co. and the needed purchase of more pasture for wastewater storage and disposal, the new TUD administration is already off to a good start.

Teri Murrison should be a welcome addition to the Tuolumne County board. Not only did she post impressive wins in the primary and general elections, but she has attended nearly every supervisors' meeting for the past year and will hit the ground not only running, but impeccably prepared.

Yes, Murrison will give the board a long-needed tie-breaking vote. But more importantly, she may lend valuable perspective on issues ranging from the future of Tuolumne General Hospital, affordable housing and septic disposal rules to neon signs in Twain Harte.

In Calaveras, incoming District 5 Supervisor Russ Thomas won an election that focused on what is easily that county's hottest, most divisive issue: growth. He was seen as a more moderate alternative to incumbent Erickson.

Now Thomas' job will be to help build consensus on a board that may be split down the middle on Calaveras County's future.

Our departing directors, administrators and supervisors deserve the public's thanks for their many years of service. Their jobs, as their successors surely know, are not easy.

As the New Year approaches, those successors — our new leaders — deserve our support, encouragement and optimism.

Please, share your thoughts on the issue. Write to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Union Democrat editorial positions are formed through regular meetings of the newspaper's editorial board — Publisher Geoff White, Managing Editor Patty Fuller and senior reporter-columnist Chris Bateman

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