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One of my part time jobs while in my undergraduate years of college was to relieve motel managers of a small chain when they needed time off. Often my hours were evenings or extended when the managers took brief out-of-the-area trips. In order to let travelers know that rooms were available, a large, lighted “VACANCY” sign was positioned in a conspicuous location. The idea of the sign was to alert the public in an obvious and attractive manner. Times have changed and information about vacancies is now available in many different ways including apps on the internet. It still remains important for the lodging industry to use every avenue of publicity, including signage, to announce their presence.


Most businesses operate with similar requirements. Brief employee absences can be difficult but manageable. However, when faced with significant or permanent absence, swift action is necessary to continue operations in an acceptable manner. To meet this need, employment agencies and several online services have tried to streamline the interview and hiring process. Government, too, can face the same dilemma when critical personnel or resources are lost. There is no VACANCY sign posted on the highway, but virtual signs on the internet can be lighted to alert the public.


The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is facing a vacancy issue with the death of District 2 Supervisor Richard Valle. In order to continue representation, a selection process will begin to appoint a successor until the next general election scheduled for March 2024. Staff will present a proposal at the February 28, 2023 meeting to invite applicants, schedule interviews and select a replacement. The timeline is mandated by an April 9 deadline when the right to appoint a replacement reverts to the Governor of California.


“Full public involvement and transparency in the selection process” is the goal of the board but can only be achieved with extensive outreach to county residents. After all, many significant business and fiscal decisions for all county residents are decided by the board and obviously, residents in District 2 – Hayward, Newark, Union City, northern Fremont – have an even larger stake in the outcome. For those who have little idea of what business is transacted at the county level, a review of the current agenda (www.acgove.org) for the broad range of topics, agencies and responsibilities covered may be a surprise.


The process will begin with adoption of the proposed schedule at the February 28 meeting and move quickly to an invitation for applicants beginning March 1st and ending March 14th. Since scrutiny of applications and interviews are constrained to a short timeframe, those interested in applying should pay close attention to deadlines. For the rest of us, this is an opportune time to pay attention to county politics.