After eight years representing the Fifth District on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, Ryan Sundberg was given a series of fond farewells and parting gifts from his colleagues and staff on Tuesday during his final meeting before leaving office.
Sundberg’s fellow supervisors took turns singing his praises.
Rex Bohn, the supervisor from the county’s First District, said that when he and Sundberg were conversing, Sundberg was always “the adult in the room,” reining Bohn in on certain impulses. Bohn’s voice got a bit quavery as he said, “The best part of the job so far is becoming friends with [Sundberg].”
“I have enjoyed every moment that I’ve spent with Ryan for the last two years,” said Third District Supervisor Mike Wilson. While they disagreed on some matters, Wilson said they never left the room with hard feelings, and he described his departing colleague as fun, funny and intelligent.
Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass complimented Sundberg on his ability to balance his job and family, and Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell was clearly emotional as she began her remarks.
“I’m a mess,” she said, though she went on to express admiration for Sundberg’s dedication to the job, including his time with Fennell co-chairing the board’s ad hoc cannabis advisory committee. Fennell said she expects the two to be friends for a long time.
Sundberg’s wife, daughter, mom and stepdad were in attendance, and his wife Kim addressing the board from the lectern. “I don’t know why I’m crying because I’m super happy” to have him back, she said.
Later in the meeting the board returned to the matter of the unexpected vacancy on the Planning Commission caused by the resignation of at-large Commissioner David Edmonds. Last time the board discussed the vacancy, at its Dec. 4 meeting, the members voted 4-1, with Wilson dissenting, to consider appointing a replacement for the end of Edmonds’ term at today’s meeting, even though Edmonds only had a single meeting left before his term expired on Jan. 31.
But it appears the majority had a change of heart in the interim. Deputy Clerk of the Board Tracy D’Amico hadn’t finished introducing the issue before Sundberg interjected.
“Before we get too far into this,” he began, “I’m requesting someone make a motion to hold this off — “
Before he could finish that sentence Bohn chimed in, making a motion to put off the appointment until January “just for the obvious reasons.” We assume he was referring to the fact that Sundberg’s successor, Supervisor-Elect Steve Madrone, will have taken office by then.
It’s not clear what changed between Dec. 4, when the majority seemed intent on pushing through an appointment, and today, but the entire board appeared to be on the same page. Zero fireworks.
There was some back-and-forth with staff as the board tried to figure out how to to craft a motion so that the eventual appointee is given a four-year term, rather than just filling out the remainder of Edmonds’ term. Eventually staff said they’d figured it out, and the appointment was scheduled for the Jan. 15 meeting. (Bass said she’ll be at a conference for the first meeting of the year, on Jan. 8, so requested it be postponed a week.)
There were a few public commenters, all of whom commended the board for postponing the decision, and at Wilson’s request county staff agreed to issue a press release to spread the word about the vacancy on the commission.