By Lisa Bartlett

In December, I was elected to serve as President of the California State Association of Counties. As the leader of the Urban Caucus, it has been a pleasure serving as a CSAC Officer for the past two years, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be the 2020 president of the organization. This is a big deal for Orange County, because our county has not served in the role of President of CSAC for 70 years.

The annual conference is always one of my favorite events of the year, because County Supervisors, administrators, and department heads all come together to discuss the most pressing issues facing each of our counties. One of the best realizations from the conference exercises and workshops is that no matter the geography, population, or location of each county, many of us face a lot of the same issues. Homelessness, natural disaster resiliency, affordable housing and transportation mobility, to name a few, are common issues facing county leaders across the state. The conference provides a great opportunity for us to gain insight from each other on how county leaders are utilizing innovative opportunities to address these issues.

I am so excited to continue on this leadership journey with CSAC and look forward to advocating on behalf of Orange County and the state’s 57 other counties in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. The critical role counties play is sometimes overlooked, and that is no longer acceptable. The many services we provide our constituents daily is important and necessary, so we need the support from our state and federal leaders to ensure those services are carried out and protected.

CSAC has always been a leading advocate in the state capitol, with the governor’s office as well as our legislature. The organization, along with our individual counties, are always educating and driving the conversation when it comes to counties and our role serving our constituents. Our story is a very difficult one to tell, which is why we have fallen short on funding and other major policy decisions. As president, it is my goal this year to reverse that mindset of our legislature and governor. I will work closely with our state officials to educate and advocate for what counties deserve. We need more funding for programs and services related to homelessness. We need more flexibility in our Mental Health Services Act dollars, so we can be innovative and treat our most vulnerable population. We need more support for our court systems and security officers. These are just a few issues I, along with CSAC, will be advocating for this coming year.

I want to thank all County of Orange department leaders and staff, including my fellow supervisors and CEO Frank Kim, who have continuously supported my efforts with CSAC and helped me achieve this role. I could not do this work without you. This is a tremendous opportunity for our county to have a greater influence at the state and federal level. I am very honored to have been elected to this role by my County Supervisor colleagues from across the state and look forward to working with each of our counties and CSAC in the upcoming year.

I hope everyone had a joyous holiday season spent with family and friends, and Happy New Year.

Lisa Bartlett is the chairperson of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. She was reelected in 2018.

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