The County Voice

Counties Matter — Honoring Your Heroic Work During This Time of Crisis

Each April, the National Association of Counties (NACo) celebrates National County Government Month. This year’s theme – “Counties Matter” – could not be more appropriate given the COVID-19 crisis that has placed counties on the front lines, not only here in California but across the nation. While now is not the time for celebration, it is a time to honor our counties for the incredible work they are undertaking to protect our residents.

These are difficult times. As a state, we are being challenged in a way we have never seen. California counties have seen their share of crises over the past few years: devastating wildfires, debris flows, flooding, drought, terrorism and lengthy power outages. Even so, we have never been faced with a crisis that simultaneously has struck all 58 counties and impacted all 40 million residents.

The work of our counties over the past month reminds me of a quote from Rosalynn Carter: “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”

California Counties have taken extraordinary – and necessary – measures to flatten the COVID-19 curve in California. Our Counties were the first in the nation to issue Shelter in Place orders. We are working tirelessly with the state and federal government to secure necessary resources. Our county leaders have worked hard to keep the public informed on what is happening in our communities and what is expected of each individual.  Public health, behavioral health, emergency response and public safety staff are just a few who are on the front lines 24 hours a day. In this time of crisis, our counties are leading to protect our citizens; our staffs are the boots on the ground, putting their own fears aside to work with the sick and the vulnerable.

And on top of all this, the daily work that counties must accomplish continues.  Our staffs are still working with the public to provide critical services such as CalWORKs and CalFresh. They are still certifying results from the March 3 primary election (which seems so long ago). They are taking care of public works and transportation needs.  The list goes on and on. To those who are working to ensure county operations continue, I thank you. Your work is invaluable and appreciated by me and those in our communities.

I also want to applaud my supervisor colleagues and their executive staffs throughout the state for their leadership. They have answered the call in leading their respective counties during this incredible challenge. Their commitment, hard work and proactive decisions are saving lives.

The work for counties will be far from over once this crisis ebbs. We will still be on the front lines helping residents through the economic crisis that our state will be facing.

Yes, “Counties DO Matter.” So please join me in honoring our 58 Counties that are making a difference during the month of April and beyond.


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