Supervisor Jaron Brandon - FAQ: It's OK to ask!
Where is District 5?
District 5 covers the portions of the county to the West of the city limits of Sonora and southwest portions of the county. This includes Jamestown, Columbia, Stent, Tuttletown, Rawhide, Black Jack Bluffs, and Jackass Hills featuring areas such as Railtown State Park, Columbia Historic State Park, Columbia Airport, Lake Tulloch, New Melones Reservoir, and Columbia College.
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What is a Supervisor?
I like to simplify the position as a “professional advocate” for those I represent in all the spaces where decisions are made.
Each California County is governed by a board of five (5) elected officials called County Supervisors. Together, they serve as the executive (budget, staff), legislative (ordinance, policy, resolutions), and quasi-judicial (land use disputes, zoning changes, compliance) governing authority for Tuolumne County. Decisions are made as a group generally requiring a majority vote and priorities are set each annually as direction to staff. This means it’s a team sport.
The Board of Supervisors is able to speak for the county, sets budgets, creates law in the form of ordinances, add or eliminate positions in departments, appoints representatives to committees and groups, engage in collective bargaining with unions, authorizes applying for and accepting grants, enters into agreements for the county, enforces state and federal laws, and much more. However, it is bound to follow state and federal laws, and, unlike cities, is technically an organ of the state.
Supervisors are paid roughly $54,000 per year and while the minimum work is low, to do it right I consider it to be more than a full-time position.
What is the County government?
The County of Tuolumne is a local government for our county area consisting of about 600 staff serving every role from road maintenance to purchasing specialists to law enforcement to human resources to public health. Most government functions locally are through or in collaboration with the County. It was established way back in 1850. There are 58 counties in the state.
- History of the creation of California counties
- How counties are generally organized
- Guide to the “Brown Act” which ensures transparency and open decision making
- Guide to Rosenberg’s Rules of Order that roughly lays out motions, meetings, and rules.
What other entities besides the County are there?
Under the county, there are several other key elected officials besides the Board of Supervisors. For example, our elected Sheriff and District Attorney control law enforcement operations while the Auditor-Controller, Tax Collector, and Assessor-Recorder oversee the departments that do taxes, finances, and revenue recovery.
Other elected officials aren’t under the “County of Tuolumne.” These include the Superintendent of Schools that oversees local education and Court Judges.
There are also other local governments that we work with but don’t really oversee:
- The City of Sonora is governed independently with five city council members (one serving as Mayor) and is the only incorporated city in Tuolumne County -- everything else is a town.
- Chicken Ranch Rancheria and Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk are both federally recognized tribes meaning they are sovereign nations within their “trust” (reservation) lands.
- Utility Districts oversee water and sewer infrastructure. This group includes the Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD), Jamestown and Tuolumne Sanitary District (JSD and TSD), Groveland and Twain Harte Community Service Districts (GCSD and THCSD)
- Fire Districts include Tuolumne Fire District, Columbia Fire Protection District, Jamestown Fire District, and more.
Lastly, there are many regional bodies that work with the county such as the Central Sierra Continuum of Care (CSCoC), Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA), T-STAN Integrated Regional Water Management (T-STAN IRWM), the Central Sierra Economic Development District (CSEDD), and more.
How do we advocate as a rural county?
There are many ways like calling your state and federal representatives to tell them what you think. However, as a lean, mean, lower-population county, we find the most success in working with other counties through the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), and the National Association of Counties (NACO). You’ll often hear these names when we talk about legislation and they are highly capable advocacy organizations (even if we don’t always get what we’d like).
How can I get involved?
Great question! It’s easy to speak at a meeting or email the Board. You could also apply for a committee or go help out one of our local non-profits. Whatever it is, I want to encourage it so send me a message, and don’t be afraid to ask.