Is Wade Horton’s job on the chopping block?

March 15, 2023

SLO County Administrator Wade Horton


A new majority on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will likely determine the fate of County Administrative Officer Wade Horton during a closed session meeting on March 21.

The meeting agenda refers to an “annual performance evaluation” of Horton. However, this is the first performance review scheduled since he was appointed as head of the county in 2017. County officials are not disclosing which county supervisor requested the review.

Under Government Code section 54957, during the evaluation the supervisors can discipline or dismiss Horton.

At the time of Horton’s appointment, Supervisor Bruce Gibson wanted a different applicant to win the appointment. At the same time, Supervisor Debbie Arnold was promoting a third choice. In the end, the board voted 5-0 to appoint Horton, a second choice for both Gibson and Arnold.

While supervisors are tasked with making policy and management decisions thorough a board majority, Gibson has a history of violating rules regarding directly managing county staff.

In 2009, CalCoastNews exclusively reported that former county administrator David Edge was on paid leave because of sexual misconduct.

Gibson then determined he could take the reins as acting county administrator while also serving on the board of supervisors. However, after CalCoastNews asked county council about the California Government Code prohibiting elected officials from personally directing staff, Gibson was removed as acting county administrator.

With a new board majority, Gibson likely has the votes to replace Horton with someone more likely to promote his agenda.

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Time to let this guy go. He is great at covering his tracks and discounting and concealing epic issues at the County. How does he do it, give money and raises over and over again, award contracts to his buddies firms. SLO County deserves better.

Wade Horton likely isn’t concerned. They way these type of jobs are structured even if he is out of a job here he can still earn his same salary, and sometimes more, from an already bankrupted pension system, plus he can receive his pension and become a public sector consultant or accept a job elsewhere earning a salary and pension at the same time.

Don’t know Horton but it’s obviousely a political move and you people keep electing these want a be rulers of all and don’t seem to care

I happen to respect Wade Horton, oh yes he has pissed me off but that is not the metrics I’d use to measure his performance. He is a person of integrity (from my perspective) that is dealing with the consequences of a heavy handed politician who has SLO’ly carved funding for networks of support to get re-elected, over and over again. This is a totally legal way to spend tax dollars for a re-election campaign and right before your eyes if you attend the Board meetings which are no longer on the radio and there are half as many as in the distant past. I am just as guilty for not hiring a lawyer to put Rita Neal to work on the bench instead of the couch.

Keeping Wade, will further define the real issues while affording better clarity to his management (Board of Supervisors) and ownership for what they have created.

I realize that people have different opinions about the County government. But I have had more than one opportunity to chat with Wade Horton, and he impressed me as honest and dedicated to the job. He’s a Naval Reserve officer with an Iraq deployment under his belt, a family man with roots in the community. This reminds me, ominously so, I might add, of when Ken Hampian retired and the City hired Katie Lichtig. She came in and started taking scalps, any department head or deputy who didn’t toe the line was pushed out, and the result is the SLO City government structure we see today. Risk-averse, compliant and raising no meaningful input or alternative viewpoints to any of the proposals the City Council pushes through. Are we going to see Hwy. 227 reduced to one lane with protected bike lanes? I hope the Board will not dump Wade. One man’s opinion.

The arrogant and lying Bruce Gibson is at it again. Just like the late Adam Hill, Gibson’s greed for power and control will be his demise. We continue to tally his offenses since this new board started it’s reign of distrust and dishonesty. The list is already long. We’re coming for you Bruce to expose your blatant corruption.

Less expensive administrators and department heads, yeah!

How big of an ego defective narcissist must a politician be to unilaterally proclaim he/she can concurrently serve both as an elected representative on a government council and function as the jurisdictions’ chief administrative officer? No way can that be legal. Back in 2017 when Gibson tried to pull off this ludicrous tyrannical trick, every department head in county government along with the president of each employee bargaining unit should have been waving red flags and telling Bruce to sit the hell down. Certainly, county legal counsel should have been the first to immediately advise him to shut up and stay in his lane. It is being reported in this article that it took prompting from CCN to get legal counsel to do their job. Is that really what happened?? Does the troubling dysfunctional organizational culture that tolerated Gibson’s Napoleonic nonsense back in 2017 still persist in today’s county government? If so, we’ve got trouble in River City. Especially now that little Napolean and his two generals comprise a majority on the Board of Supervisors.

Correction: Apparently it was 2009 when Bruce Gibson suggested he could fill-in as SLO County CAO after the dismissal of David Edge, not 2017.