Huchingson: “We were determined to provide all residents a chance to safely participate.”
LAKE COUNTY, CA (November 6, 2020) – This week, the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) celebrated Lake County’s, “Hybrid Board of Supervisors Meetings,” among the innovative projects recognized by their annual “Challenge Awards.”
“Solutions that left those without broadband internet access behind were never on the table. We were determined to provide all Lake County residents and otherwise connected people a chance to safely participate in local government, despite the pandemic,” said Carol J. Huchingson, County Administrative Officer.
“As soon as it became apparent fully in-person meetings would not be possible for a time,” continued Huchingson, “I brought together Administrative Office staff, our Assistant Clerk of the Board and our IT Director and his staff to cast what proved to be a uniquely inclusive vision.”
Thanks to Huchingson’s bold mandate, and the determined efforts of the County’s excellent technical support staff, Lake became the first California County to successfully embrace a model that provided for both electronic (via telephone- and web-based tools) and in-person participation in public meetings, while preserving COVID-19 precautions.
As a result, engagement in Board Meetings skyrocketed; in August of 2020, six Board of Supervisors and Virtual Community Meetings averaged more than 12,000 viewers and participants across all platforms, equivalent to a remarkable 18% of Lake County’s population.
“Given the diversity and quality of input this approach has garnered, we do not anticipate ever returning to in-person-only meetings,” emphasized Huchingson. “Our Planning Commission quickly adopted the hybrid model, and we will welcome the opportunity to assist other counties.
“The staff, across multiple County departments, that believed in our vision and worked hard to make this possible can really celebrate this award. Lake County’s government processes are more representative, and more effective, as a direct result of these collective efforts.”
More information on the CSAC Challenge Awards, and 2020 honorees, is available here: