SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.—Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors celebrated the successful completion of 31 residents selected to participate in the inaugural SCC GOV 101 ACADEMY – a 10 week program to showcase County services and programs. The Board authorized the program last November and weekly sessions began on February 28.
Counties are often the least understood level of government, yet the services they provide touch many aspects of day-to-day life. The Academy was formed to raise public awareness of County roles and services, promote engagement and understanding of the County, encourage participation in advisory boards and commissions and volunteer opportunities, and contribute to creating a more informed public.
On the opening night of the Academy, County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, provided the group with an overview of the County’s mission and values. He also described the move toward creating a learning environment, where everyone is invested in the success of the county. “We are in the business of service,” Smith said. “We are empowering people at every level to develop a sense of ownership and to identify ways to make improvements.”
“The SCC GOV 101 ACADEMY was a great opportunity for residents to learn little known facts,” said President George Shirakawa, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “Many of our graduates are community leaders in their own right. We hope this program serves as a catalyst to encourage the participation and civic engagement of others.”
The 10-week course, which began with an overview of the County’s structure, how it differs from cities and states, and the roles of the Board of Supervisors and County Executive, included lectures, demonstrations, and tours of several county facilities. Among the topics discussed were: Know Your Government, All About Taxes, Keeping the Community Safe, Justice at Work, Supporting the Community, Protecting the Environment and Consumers, 24/7 Community Service, Healthy Communities, and Get Involved.
The group met at different county facilities and the Palo Superior Court.
Supervisor Liz Kniss, District 5, who championed the creation of the program, told the group, “Despite the fact that County Supervisors represent districts much larger than cities and several states, the role of counties is not as well known.”
Supervisor Mike Wasserman, District 1, reflecting on his presentation on opening night about the role and complexity of governing the County, thanked participants for their interest and willingness to spend time learning about the County. “Santa Clara County has a population larger than 13 states,” said Wasserman. “It is important for residents to understand the role of the County.”
Congratulating the graduates, Supervisor Dave Cortese, District 3, said, “We appreciate each graduate’s willingness to be an example and role model and go through this program. It heartens me to know that as a result of this process, we will have 31 informed ambassadors who can share the County’s story with friends, neighbors and members of the community.”
The graduates toured the Emergency Operations Center, the Main Jail, County Communications 9-1-1 Center, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, the Milpitas Library, Martial Cottle Park, the County’s Traffic Operations Center, Weights and Measures Truck Tour, Vector Control Lab and the Registrar of Voter’s operation.
Supervisor Ken Yeager, District 4, thanked the graduates for their activism and for their participation. “I’m not bragging, but District 4 had the largest number of participants. I look forward to seeing your names as applicants for County Boards and Commissions.”
County Public Affairs Director Gwendolyn Mitchell, said that plans are underway to create video training modules from the presentations and post them online, so more residents will be able to find out more about the County’s role. The next SCC GOV 101 ACADEMY will take place in the Spring of 2013.
SCC GOV 101 ACADEMY Graduates by District:
Rev. Jethroe Moore II
Narendra V. Pathak
Mary Cheryl Nacionales
Micheal Shelly Babowal
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