I had the privilege of serving on the community interview panel for the Shasta County CEO position in late 2019. Our panel unanimously recommended Matt Pontes to the Board of Supervisors consideration. See Matt Pontes’ bio HERE. They agreed with our choice and Mr. Pontes’ first day was January 27, 2020. He arrived with a full head of steam and then…COVID…and mask mandates…and censures…and a recall attempt. The last year and a half is not how any of us would have drawn it up, but–
Now is the time to turn the page. Now is the time for a bold, executive decision. The “new” county CEO aims to deliver in that department.
For years we have talked and wished and hoped for a plan to improve our community in terms of public safety, mental health, and programs to help those experiencing homelessness. It is a complex challenge, which we believe requires a comprehensive approach. That is exactly what Matt Pontes and the majority of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors are proposing. Who will take the lead on the staff side to guide this comprehensive and collaborative approach? Sheriff Eric Magrini was an “opportunity hiding in plain sight”. As we saw last week, he made the decision to compete and accept the newly created position of Assistant CEO for the County of Shasta.
“Eric Magrini is a fantastic administrator”, Pontes told me over the phone last week, “He is an executive level manager, who has not only managed a significant annual budget, he also has a great relationship with (Health and Human Services Agency Director) Donnell Ewert.”
The reason the HHSA partnership is key is that the only way forward is to leverage resources and relationships in an arranged marriage of sorts of programs and prosecution. The Redding Chamber of Commerce has been at the table for years regarding improving Redding’s quality of life. Our business community has dealt with the effects of prison realignment and voter-driven changes that have downgraded many illicit activities that for as long as I can remember have been serious crimes. The reality of the situation is that we can’t rely solely on RPD and the Sheriff’s office to solve it all. There must also be a plan to help people dealing with the grips of addiction, severe and persistent mental illness, and other things that cause people to live unsheltered lives.
Matt Pontes has a plan that has worked before in other counties he has served. Could the antiquated and undersized Shasta County Jail be better served in a different location in our community? Is there opportunity for a more holistic campus that leverages local, state, and federal funding? These are a couple of the questions posed at this time. I would guess that it is going to take many of us coming together to drive this initiative forward. Remember, just below a “healthy business community” are a “healthy local government” and “a safe community” as building blocks for a vibrant community. After visiting with Matt Pontes, I think this is actually attainable now.
As a Redding kid who grew up nearly in the shadow of the Shasta County Jail, I, for one, would love to see that uninspiring structure demolished and turned over to the private sector. As we have seen in recent times, there would be no shortage of developers competing to redevelop that prime real estate into its highest and best use for our community.
It is time to put the plan into action. Mr. Pontes, how can we help you?