The following is a prepared testimony urging the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to ensure an equitable, community-centered hiring process for the county’s next Chief Administrative Officer. It was delivered by ACLU-SDIC Executive Director Norma Chávez-Peterson on December 5, 2023.

Good morning, Chair Vargas and Supervisors. My name is Norma Chávez-Peterson. I serve as executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

ACLU-SDIC is a proud member of the Invest in San Diego Families (ISDF) coalition. Together, we advocate for a San Diego County government that centers the rights, values, needs and aspirations of regular people. “We the People” means government by the people and for the people.

I am calling in today on behalf of the coalition to urge the Board of Supervisors to take a significant step toward realizing your public promise of a more equitable, inclusive and thriving San Diego County: adopt a transparent, community-involved process for hiring our next Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

The CAO plays a powerful role, overseeing more than 40 county departments as well as the allocation of all county personnel, capital and budgetary resources. When you consider that the current CAO has served for more than 25 years, this hire has the potential to affect the future of the region and everyone who lives and works here for a generation.  

We urge you to embrace a hiring process that is transparent and includes meaningful community input and insight. San Diego County needs and deserves a hiring process that effectively identifies a new CAO with the experience, acumen and demonstrated commitment to our shared values of social, racial and economic justice.

We call upon the Board to adopt an inclusive hiring process that includes a transparent timeline and robust public engagement. Additionally, we urge you to establish an application review committee and a hiring selection committee with community representatives, including, but not limited to, ISDF coalition members.          

This is an incredible opportunity for the Board to hire an individual with the values and drive to implement policies that result in a more equitable and inclusive San Diego County for us all. With this goal in mind, we urge you to invest in San Diego families by ensuring our next Chief Administrative Officer is hired through a transparent, community-involved process.

Thank you for your time and careful consideration.