Kirk Girard, Humboldt County’s Community Development Services Director, will be given a new job with the county when his current department is divided later this year.

On a 3-2 vote in closed session Tuesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted to automatically appoint Girard to the newly created position of Director of Economic Development and Natural Resources, leading the smaller portion of the soon-to-be-former Community Development Services Department. The county will seek applications from candidates to lead the larger part, which will oversee zoning and building.

The vote to move Girard automatically into the new position follows a fairly lengthy debate at last week’s meeting. At that meeting, Supervisor Ryan Sundberg made clear that he had assumed that the county would seek applicants for both new department head positions. Supervisor Mark Lovelace, meanwhile, that the question of departmental reorganization is separate from personnel matters; if the county wished to dismiss Girard, a separate process would be necessary.

The board then decided to discuss the question in closed session its meeting this week.

But only Sundberg and Supervisor Virginia Bass ended up voting to seek applications for the economic development position; Supervisors Lovelace, Jimmy Smith and Clif Clendenen voted to pass the job to Girard.

As Community Development Services Director, the lead staff member on the controversial and much-delayed update of the county general plan, Girard has been a lightning rod, especially to those in the development community. Local conservative businessman Rob Arkley called Girard a habitual liar in an interview with John Matthews last week, and challenged him to a debate and/or lawsuit.