Supervisor Arnold to to interview SLO County administrator candidates

March 17, 2024

Supervisor Debbie Arnold


The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors met last week to interview the final candidates for the empty county administrator position, however, Supervisor Debbie Arnold was unable to attend. The board then elected to provide Arnold an opportunity to interview the candidates.

At a special meeting on Monday, Arnold will have a chance to interview candidates. The five supervisors then plan to discuss the appointment in closed session.

The candidates include Grover Beach City Manager Matthew Bronson, and two other male candidates. It is likely the board will select a new administrator on Monday. During the past year, two administrators left the county.

In March 2023, two members of the new board majority called for a performance review of then Administrative Officer Wade Horton. County officials are not disclosing which of three county supervisors – Bruce Gibson, Jimmy Paulding or Dawn Ortiz Legg – requested the review.

As required by his position, Horton then placed the closed session performance review on the agenda leading supervisors Gibson and Paulding to claim Horton “voluntarily chose” to put his review on the agenda.

Horton, however, announced plans to resign before the controversial review.

In Nov. 2023 , the SLO County Board of Supervisors voted to fire then Administrative Officer John Nilon because of allegations of sexual misconduct. During his short tenure, multiple county employees and others accused Nilon of inappropriate touching.

Nilon, whose first day was May 1, 2023, was appointed on a 3-2 vote, with supervisors Debbie Arnold and John Peschong opposed. Arnold felt the county had not properly vetted Nilon, while Peschong felt his salary was too high.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Again, This will be a “at will position” and it is my opinion that these professionals should carry their own malpractice insurance as is the case for doctors or lawyers.

Seriously? Our Board of Supervisors can’t figure out how to schedule a meeting where all five members can be present? If an emergency arose, they couldn’t figure out how to reschedule? How hard can this be? Did they really interview candidates for the most important county position without the Chairman of the Board being present?

This is an incredible embarrassment. Just imagine what the candidates must feel. First we’re going to invite you to interview you before all of the Board members, when you show up, you’re told that The Chairman won’t be present (huh?). They conduct the interview. Then they call you and say, “just kidding, we’re going to have the Chairman present to reinterview you again!” They must think what we all should think, what a clown show!

Now it sounds like only Arnold will be interviewing the candidates again and then the Board will meet again to discuss the candidates? The point of interviews is to allow those who make the selection to hear candidates say the same thing with the same tone and body language. Well that’s now out the window.

The real question is why did they, after the interviews, decide they need Arnold? Is there doubt about Golden Boy Bronson? If so, that would mean one of the three have pealed off and joined Peschong as a dissenter.

My guess is that Bronson will be the unanimous pick and the Board is just that inept that they can’t even hold interviews correctly.

Calm down! Arnold was stuck and couldn’t attend the meeting. The BOS is giving her a chance to interview the candidates–common courtesy.

We all know that unforeseen circumstances arise.

However, if you are the Chairman of the Board of a $1 billion organization, you ensure that you are available for your primary responsibility. Worst case is a last minute rescheduling of the interviews, so that the full Board fulfills their sworn duty as representatives of the tax payer.

In this case it’s a baling wire/duct tape process where some Board members evaluate the candidates on one day and another Board member evaluates them the next week. Of course this bifurcated process is fraught with flaws.

This is only the most important hire the Board makes, one would think it should done correctly.

Me? I think the common courtesy should be extended to residents of our county and not just to the elected officials.

Once again, to clarify the record:

Nilon was never accused of sexual misconduct.

Nilon was never accused of inappropriate touching. During his six month tenure it was noted that Mr. Nilon briefly touched two women on the small of the back while navigating a doorway that Mr. Nilon held open. Neither of the two women accused Mr. Nilon of inappropriate touching. There is no mention of Mr. Nilon touching anyone else. That’s it.

County Counsel reported that there were no written complaints of any kind against Nilon.

After three months on the job, Nilon recieved an extension of his contract on a 5-0 vote. Apparently, with the full support of Arnold and Peschong.

If required, his malpractice insurance premium would be cheap and if he evolved into a predator, the county taxpayers would not have to fund another of the many allegations.