Agricultural Commissioner resigns for Monterey County position

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Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales has resigned to become Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner.

Gonzales, 62, will step down from the Ventura County post he had held for nearly 10 years later this month, County General Manager Mike Powers said on Wednesday.

“I’m happy for him,” Powers said, pointing to Gonzales’s deep roots in Monterey County.

Gonzales has parents there and worked in the Office of the Commissioner of Agriculture for 24 years. He was Deputy Chief Commissioner of Agriculture in Monterey County before taking up the post of Commissioner in Ventura County in 2008.

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Gonzales was born in Fresno to migrant farm workers. He began working on farms on weekends and during summer vacation after turning 13, according to information on the Ventura County government website.

He graduated from CSU Fresno with a degree in Agricultural Sciences and went on to earn a Masters of Public Administration from Golden Gate University before moving to Ventura County.

“He’s going home, like he said,” Powers said.

A spokeswoman for Monterey County said Gonzales’ appointment was not final until approved by that county’s supervisory board. The board will review the nomination on February 27, she said.

Powers said Gonzales had done a great job in Ventura County.

“He strengthened the quality and capacity of the (crop) inspection program, did a lot to support farm workers, dealt with invasive pests, and listened to the farming community,” Powers said.

Gonzales was an important part of the county’s farming community, according to Terry Farms owner and Lutheran University of California professor Edgar Terry.

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“The agricultural commissioner position is kind of a focal point for farmers, and Henry was a wonderful man who did a really good job in Ventura County,” said Terry. “His role in crop inspections was vital, especially for invasive species and disease. “

In his role as Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner, Gonzales and his team oversaw a local agricultural economy valued at $ 2 billion per year.

The role of agricultural commissioner is crucial for the farming community in Ventura County, said John Krist, CEO of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County. Krist noted that it would be difficult to replace Gonzales due to the certifications required for the role.

“It’s not easy to fill these positions, and there are a limited number of people in the state who are licensed to serve as an agricultural commissioner,” Krist said in an interview. “There is no one in the Ventura agricultural office who has passed all the exams and has all the requirements (to apply for the position). We want to make sure that the person hired to replace Henry is good at working in this fragmented and politically contested landscape. “

The county confirmed Krist’s statement. No employee in the agricultural commissioner’s office is qualified to fill the role of Gonzales, according to Shawn Atin, director of human resources for Ventura County.

Deputy Chief Agriculture Commissioner Korinne Bell does not yet have the license required to act as Interim Commissioner. Bell noted, however, that in March she was due to take the exam required to become a commissioner of agriculture.

Bell added that she was happy with her current position, but that she would do everything in her power to keep the Agriculture Commissioner’s office functioning and that she would be ready to apply for Gonzales’ position if necessary.

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Powers said the county could hire a retired commissioner or contract for the services of another county agricultural commissioner to serve as the interim commissioner.

Regardless, Gonzales’ impending departure from Ventura County did not come with much warning in advance, which put the agriculture commissioner’s office in a difficult position, said Bell.

“I find the timing (of Gonzales’ resignation) a little difficult,” Bell said. “I didn’t have time to prepare or get a license (and) I would have preferred to have had a little more notice, so it wasn’t like we were rushing at the last minute to get a license. Licence. I would have liked to have seen Henry do it a little differently.

Nationwide recruitment will be carried out for Gonzales’ successor, Powers said.

Gonzales was not immediately available for comment.


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