May 20, 2022
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Ventura County supervisors plan search for successor after CEO Mike Powers retires abruptly

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NOTE: This article was posted March 10 and updated March 11 with comments from members of the Board of Supervisors.

Ventura County Executive Officer Mike Powers suddenly retired on March 10 after nearly 11 years as the county government’s top executive.

Ashley Bautista, the county’s public information officer, said Powers told the Ventura County Board of Supervisors on that day that he was retiring, effective immediately, “to spend more time with his family.”

The board will appoint an interim CEO at its next meeting, on March 22, Bautista said. In the meantime, the top ranking executive in county government is Assistant CEO Mike Pettit.

Three of the five members of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors — Linda Parks of Thousand Oaks, Bob Huber of Simi Valley and Matt LaVere of Ventura — declined to comment on Powers’ retirement.

Supervisor Carmen Ramirez, who represents the Oxnard area and chairs the board, said in a statement emailed to the Business Times that the county has “an excellent leadership team in place to assure continuity of operations while a new CEO is selected.”

“We are well-positioned with the staff and leaders we have in place to carry on with our key board priorities with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said.

Supervisor Kelly Long, whose district includes Camarillo, Santa Paula and Fillmore, said in a statement that she appreciates the work Powers did to lead the county through some especially difficult times, including the Thomas, Hill and Woolsey fires, the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in 2018 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “These issues require a dedication above and beyond the normal duties of an administrator,” Long said. “We will be looking for that same level of commitment as we embark on a process to recruitment for this position. I wish Mike and his family well in their next chapter.”

Powers, 59, became the CEO for Ventura County in April 2011.

“It’s been 11 years in the role and it was a privilege to serve,” he told the Business Times in a phone interview shortly after he informed the board of his retirement.

His retirement comes about eight months after the Ventura County Board of Supervisors approved a new five-year contract for the CEO. Powers received a 5% pay increase with that contract extension, bringing his annual salary to $328,975.

In his role as CEO, Powers oversaw the tri-county region’s biggest local government, with a budget of more $2.4 billion, nearly 10,000 employees and around 27 agencies and departments.

He worked for the county for around 30 years, starting as an attorney in the county counsel’s office. Before becoming CEO, he was director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency, the biggest county government agency.

He told the Business Times that the accomplishments he’s proudest of include improving the county’s credit ratings and building up its financial reserves, expanding its mental health and safety services, and “striking the right balance between services and finances.”

Powers said he thinks “things are in a good place” at the county as he steps down.

“I have a strong leadership team in place in every role in a good position … and a strong board,” he said.