Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra Wallar has confirmed to members of the Board of Supervisors that she is in talks to take the CEO post in Orange County.
Wallar sent an email Tuesday, less than 20 minutes before the start of the board meeting, to all five supervisors with the subject “Orange County” and a link to a story by Voice of OC, a nonprofit investigative news site based in Orange County.
In the email, Wallar said she wanted to give supervisors, who apparently had been in the dark about her possible departure, a “heads-up” on the article’s appearance.
“Although the discussion is taking place, there has not been an open session to approve any agreement,” she said in the email.
Reached for comment Wednesday, Wallar said she was “unable to discuss Orange County at this time.”
Wallar has been CEO in Santa Barbara County for the past two and a half years.
Board chairman Salud Carbajal spoke with Noozhawk briefly Wednesday, but said he couldn’t comment on Wallar’s situation.
“Now that we’ve learned that she applied, we’ll wait to hear from CEO Wallar,” he said. “There’s not much I can say because this is still considered a personnel matter.”
Wallar began her tenure with the county in 2010, in the middle of one of the bleakest budget sessions in county history. Since then, she’s grappled with everything from the county’s dysfunctional Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services, unfunded pension liabilities, and labor negotiations and a hiring freeze in an attempt to curb costs.
Wallar succeeded CEO Mike Brown, who had been at the county’s helm since 1996, and retired in 2010.
Wallar moved from San Diego County, where she had served since 1999 as deputy chief administrative officer and group general manager for the county’s Land Use and Environment Group, and managed 1,500 people and a budget of $400 million.