New Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin is managing the long days of her transition to higher office with a checklist that only seems to grow.
The former Santa Rosa city councilwoman is trying to come up to speed on county issues that include a controversial lack of money for road maintenance, stalled proposals for employee pay and pension cuts and looming land-use disputes.
In taking over representation of the county's 1st District from Supervisor Valerie Brown, she has about five dozen appointments to make to county boards and commissions.
One of her first selections -- her choice of Cotati Councilwoman Pat Gilardi as her district director, the equivalent of a full-time legislative aide -- is bound to cause ripples in local government and political circles.
Gilardi, a former Cotati planning commissioner, has served on the City Council since 2000 and was set to begin her third rotation as mayor this year. To accept Gorin's offer, which she has yet to formally do, she would have to step down from the City Council and her board post on the county Transportation Authority, sources said.
Gorin, 60, said she chose Gilardi for her political experience, understanding of the media -- she is a sales manager at the Marin Independent Journal -- and ability to work with the public.
"The position requires a good dose of not only exceptional skills and discretion but thoughtfulness," Gorin said.
Gilardi declined to comment Friday on the job offer.
For Gorin, there also is the small question of where to sit. Brown, who retired Dec. 31 and who bought the chairs for her office, took them with her when she left. So Gorin said she added "find furniture" to her checklist this week.
"It's sort of helter-skelter bringing things in," she said Friday in a phone interview from her office, where she was seated in a chair scrounged from a nearby cubicle. Paperwork was already piled high on her desk, she said, and a "zillion" messages were waiting in her new county email account.
"I have some catching up to do," she said.
Two months ago, Gorin won a hard-fought race against fellow Santa Rosa Council Member John Sawyer to succeed Brown, who has represented the 1st District since 2002. The district includes Sonoma, Sonoma Valley and eastern Santa Rosa.
Gorin was sworn into office Wednesday by Bill Rousseau, the county's clerk-recorder-assessor. A ceremonial oath Tuesday will be administered by state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, a close political ally.
Gorin joins a Board of Supervisors that has been reconstituted in the past four years. With Brown's departure, the longest-serving supervisors are now Shirlee Zane and Efren Carrillo, who will begin their second terms this week.
Political observers said the turnover, which includes relatively new faces in the Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices and the county administrator's post, could be both a liability and an opportunity for the new board.
"Big decisions still have to be made, and it's in the midst of forming new relationships and figuring out how you make decisions as a board. That is a challenge," said former Sonoma County Supervisor Paul Kelley, who served 16 years on the board and stepped down at the end of 2010.
Previous county boards have rotated in new members over a longer span of time, Kelley said. The transition for Gorin, who also joins Supervisors Mike McGuire and David Rabbitt, both in their first term, will be more abrupt.