A ‘blank slate’ in Mono County

New supervisors face challenge on first day

The last thing the three brand new Mono County supervisors who were sworn in Tuesday, Jan. 8, expected to face their first day in office was the imminent loss of the county’s top administrator.

But that is what District 3’s Tim Alpers, District 2’s Fred Stump, and District 4’s Tim Fesko got when County Administrative Officer Jim Arkens—with no advance warning to the supervisors—accepted another job as the CAO in Sutter County.

Although Arkens will work until the end of the month, the county also lost another top administrator, former Finance Director Brian Muir, last month.

Despite challenges the county will face in filling both positions, a couple of supervisors said it is a unique opportunity to shape the face of Mono County in a way few county boards get to do.

“This is a clean slate,” said Stump. “With three new board members, with all the changes in management, we have a unique opportunity.”

“Ditto,” said Tim Fesko. “We are starting fresh, we will prevail. We have great talent here in this county and I have no doubt we will do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Both Fesko and Stump were elected after running on platforms that included some criticism of how the county is run, especially Fesko, who has criticized the county administrator’s management style in the past.

Two years into his first term, District 1 Supervisor Larry Johnston is still relatively new to the board. He was elected two years ago by a five-vote majority against Bill Sauser.

Johnston proved to be something of a gadfly on the previous board, bringing up uncomfortable issues that made him stand out. He held the board’s feet to the fire on everything from reducing county employees’ salaries to cutting vehicle allowances to the fine print on county resolutions.

District 3 Supervisor Tim Alpers was a Mono County supervisor 29 years ago, before leaving to tend to his private trout-rearing business. He’s seen as a moderate who can work across divides.

District 5 Supervisor Byng Hunt has been in public office for decades—first with the Mammoth Lakes Town Council and now as a longtime county supervisor—and is mostly unflappable and knows how to compromise.

Will these five supervisors manage the county well? Their first test, finding a new CAO and director of finance, will give Mono County residents a far more immediate answer than anyone might have imagined a few weeks ago.