Reflections on a year in office

District 3 Supervisor Maureen Kirk served on the Chico City Council, including terms as mayor and vice mayor, before getting elected to county office in 2006.

Since my election to the Board of Supervisors last November, people continually have asked me what the difference is between serving the city of Chico and the county of Butte.

The biggest difference is Board of Supervisor members are elected by district. City Council members are elected at large. Since supervisors do not run against each other, there is more collegiality. District representation also allows a supervisor to become an expert and point person for a particular district. An overall Butte County vision is imperative, and the supervisors do have that, but details in South Oroville, for example, are best left to Supervisor Bill Connelly.

There are operational differences also. The board meets during the day, the council at night. All seven councilmembers share one office; each supervisor has an office in his or her district. While board meetings are heavily attended for some issues, public participation is not as extensive, nor as vociferous, as at the City Council meetings.

The breadth of duties is much larger for a supervisor. There is not only land use, but public safety, fire, water, public health and welfare, children’s services, the jail, probation and behavioral health, to name a few. There are fewer appeals of land-use decisions made by the Butte County Planning Commission, but when they are appealed, they can be extremely contentious.

Since coming from the council to the board, I now understand some of the frustrations of the county with the city and the city with the county. It is mostly a communication problem. Land use and infill have been an issue. Better communication is the goal of the planned, regular city/county meetings, at which issues of common interest will be discussed.

This is an opportune time to establish good relationships, since we are both working on our general plans.

My office is in Chico, but I also spend a fair amount of time in Oroville. The drive from city to city allows me to enjoy the beauty of our county and the setting of the city of Oroville. The foothills, the buttes and the open lands along Highways 99 and 70 are incredibly beautiful during every season. It is also fascinating to see the progress that CalTrans is making on the Highway 99-149 interchange.

For the first time, I have had the pleasure of working with the communities of Forest Ranch and Cohasset. Both communities are independent, hard-working and have a “can do” attitude.

I enjoy this job more than any other job I have had. I get up every day excited to go to work because there is always something new to learn and problems to solve. I feel very blessed to be in this position.