In accepting the role of California State Association of Counties president, Del Norte County Supervisor David Finigan encouraged his colleagues to keep their youngest constituents in mind when making policy decisions.
“When we consider policy, budgets, ordinance, legislation, the first question should be how does it affect the children, until we can get to that answer that all the children are well,” Finigan told supervisors from California’s 58 counties. “Nothing can be more honorable than to ensure the health, safety and success of our children.”
Finigan, who represents Del Norte’s Supervisor District 5, was installed as CSAC president at the organization’s annual meeting in Long Beach on Nov. 29. He will hold the post through 2013, according to a CSAC press release.
The association represents California’s 58 counties at the state and national level. Finigan replaced Yolo County Supervisor Mike McGowan.
As CSAC president, Finigan said he’ll help facilitate policy discussion at the county level and at the state level. He’ll run meetings and set agendas. Finigan said the position will give him an opportunity to bring attention to issues Del Norte County residents are concerned with.
“It’s the face of the organization,” Finigan said, referring to the CSAC presidency. “Every time I get into discussions with a legislator or the governor, as well as at our own meetings, I will introduce myself as a supervisor from Del Norte County.”
At CSAC’s meeting, Finigan stressed the importance of developing and strengthening partnerships. He pointed out that even though CSAC designates counties based on if they’re rural, suburban or urban, the things that affect sparsely populated areas ultimately affect the state’s largest counties.
Finigan brought up a recent Assembly bill that brings state prisoners back to county jails, water resource issues in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River delta and Cal Fire fee as examples.
“The Cal Fire stuff impacts San Diego as well as it impacts Del Norte County,” he said. “No longer do you see a suburban or an urban county that has the votes tell a rural county, ah, it’s your problem. All of our problems now concern them and now impact them as well. What they should do is pay attention.”
Finigan also encouraged his fellow county supervisors to make 2013 “the year of the child.” He brought up the Maasai tribe in Africa, whose members greet each other by asking, “How are the children?”
Creating a year of the child starts with recognizing partners that work with children and issues that affect them, Finigan said. This could include local school districts, First 5, children and family commissions, recreation leagues, CASA, the Boys and Girls Club, the governor and the Legislature, he said.
Finigan noted Del Norte County designated a “year of the child” in 2007. Supervisors opened meetings by dedicating them to a local youth organization as a way to create awareness. The county also started a teen center and a family resource center that year, Finigan said.
This year, supervisors should identify missing resources, Finigan said, and also create partnerships between government and the private sector.
“It will be easier the second time around,” Finigan said, referring to creating another “year of the child” at the county level. “Most communities are doing a good job. What it takes are a few more people chipping in and a few more new ideas to grow that good job that’s being done.”