By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

She's direct, she's not afraid of controversy and she knows Del Norte County politics inside and out.

She is Sarah Sampels, the county's newly elected supervisor who will take a seat at her first Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

andquot;I've been preparing for this job for 28 years. I've worked in this county in several different positions from the bottom up. That gives me a unique perspective of county government,andquot; Sampels said yesterday.

andquot;Now, I'm in the lowest-paid position - bottom rung - after 28 years,andquot; she joked.

Her latest 20-year stint as the county's elected tax collector/treasurer was perhaps her best introduction to county politics.

Sampels said she has worked with many supervisors since 1975. She was there when the board had no office and no administrative officer.

andquot;We've come a long way since then,andquot; she said, from her new office decorated with her favorite antique wooden teacher chairs, cherrywood desk and silk flowers.

Surrounding her desk at the moment are piles and piles of government studies, budgets, background information on Nor-Cal, salmon and countless other subjects currently facing the county.

She met this week with several county employees, from the Solid Waste Management Authority to the county Road Department, to learn about aspects of her job.

Though she was only sworn into office last Monday, Sampels said she has already been inundated with phone calls from her District 4 constituents.

andquot;That's good. I want to hear what people think and know what their ideas are ... Government is everybody's business and they need to be informed - that's my motto,andquot; Sampels said.

Sampels' main activity outside of her county duties is training drill sargents for the Army.

andquot;I set up all the training programs for my unit. I provide the training for the drill sargents,andquot; said Sampels.

She is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve Forces and also serves as a military police officer.

Until she becomes a little more familiar with her new job, Sampels said she will not tackle any specific issues or projects.

andquot;I'm not going to bring up anything yet. I'm still in a learning process,andquot; she said.