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Change places! 

This year began as all years do for the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors: a look back, a look forward, and some light musical chairs.

Supervisor Adam Hill turned over his chairman seat to Supervisor Jim Patterson after the board unanimously approved the switch. With that change, Patterson will take his second stint at the helm of the county’s main decision-making body. He last acted as board chair in 2008.

County supervisors rotate the chair seat every year, preferably in numerical order by district: District 1, then District 2, then District 3, and so on.

The rotation method is more of a formality than policy, and freshman supervisors are generally skipped to ensure they’re not thrust into the center seat their first year in office.

Since 2001, the rotation by district has gone as follows: four, two, five, one, two, four, three, five, two, one, three, and finally five.

Resident Richard Margetson questioned the process and noted that District 4, now seated by relatively new Supervisor Paul Teixeira, hasn’t been the chair since 2006.

“If this is a democratically elected board, the chair should be picked democratically,” Margetson said.

Teixeira was selected as vice chair.

Passing the seat to Patterson, Supervisor Hill said the board accomplished a lot in 2011. He cited the First Solar and SunPower solar projects now under construction in the Carrizo Plains, the Economic Development Strategy, pension and compensation reform for many of the county’s employees, closing the budget gap, and pressure on Pacific Gas & Electric to perform seismic studies at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Hill also took a few jabs at the media for going after “sexier” stories and said “most people depend solely on media outlets to get their news, which is often not always complete.”

Looking forward, Patterson touted tax money and jobs from the solar projects, outlined plans to update the county’s economic strategy and Paso Robles groundwater studies, and discussed ongoing challenges posed by the influx of state prisoners into county jails.

“We can expect continued cuts from the state and federal government,” Patterson added. ∆

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