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Appointment of chief financial officer shakes up Sonoma County government

  • David Sundstrom

In a shake-up at the top of Sonoma County government, the Board of Supervisors Monday appointed an Orange County official to Sonoma County's vacant chief financial officer post.

David Sundstrom, 59, the current elected auditor-controller of Orange County is set to begin work as Sonoma County's auditor-controller-treasurer- tax collector Feb. 1.

His leadership role in setting government accounting standards and experience with public employee pension reform and computerized financial management at a large urban county were reasons for his selection, several supervisors said.

"It's a new challenge, a new day," Sundstrom said after the unanimous board vote.

At county headquarters, the vote was seen as a clear move away from the three-decades-long-tenure of Rod Dole, the former auditor-controller-treasurer-tax collector.

Dole, who retired in May and now receives the largest county pension at $254,625, recommended Donna Dunk, the assistant auditor-controller and a 26-year county veteran, to be his successor.

But Dole sat in the audience and watched as the board went against that advice Monday. Other onlookers included nearly a dozen employees of Dole's former office as well as Tom Ford, the former treasurer-tax collector, one of only two speakers from the audience Monday. The other was Liz Yager, the county's energy and sustainability manager. Both Ford and Yager voiced support for Dunk's selection.

A third finalist interviewed for the job in the special public meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Monday morning was Terri Velasquez, a former chief financial officer for the City of Colorado Springs, Colo.

The interviews and selection were conducted in an open public session because the appointment concerns an elected post with a term to run through the end of 2014. The job has an annual salary of $208,644.

Of the three candidates, the board favored Sundstrom and Dunk, who has served as interim auditor-controller since Dole's departure. The board's final decision came down to a preference for what several supervisors called "strong leadership" and "a new perspective" in the county's top financial post.

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