Picture of Matt Pontes
Matt Pontes

Supervisors Choose New County Administrative Officer

Author: Jeanette Trompeter
Date: 4/16/2024 3:22 PM

County Supervisors offer role of CAO to Matt Pontes. Approval of contract on Tuesday's Agenda.

Following an extensive nationwide search, County Supervisors have offered the role of County Administrative Officer (CAO) to Matt Pontes, a Cal Poly Graduate with county administrative experience in Shasta and Santa Barbara Counties as well as service in Kern County. Most recently Pontes was the Director of Wildfire and Forest Ecology at Sierra Pacific Industries where he worked with private, tribal, state, and federal agencies to combat destructive wildfires and safeguard ecosystems across California, Oregon, and Washington.

“We conducted an extensive search to ensure we found the right person for the job, and we were fortunate to have multiple highly qualified candidates to choose from," remarked Board Chair Debbie Arnold. "Matt’s extensive background in county leadership, coupled with his genuine understanding of our community’s challenges and the innovative solutions he presented, made him a standout choice to lead San Luis Obispo County.”

Reflecting on his impending role, Mr. Pontes said San Luis Obispo has always held a special place in his heart and life. The opportunity to serve as CAO represents a profound chance to give back and shape a future defined by resilience, transparency, and prosperity.”

Furthermore, Mr. Pontes emphasized his commitment to fostering alignment and collaboration among the seven cities, community nonprofits, leaders, and private entities. "It's imperative that we work together to address pressing issues such as homelessness, affordable housing, infrastructure improvement, and long-term financial stability. By standing united, we can build a stronger, more vibrant future for our community.”

During his tenure as Shasta County Executive Officer, Mr. Pontes navigated similar challenges. His focus on public safety and innovative strategies aimed at enhancing emergency management response, mental health services, and infrastructure development underscores his dedication to addressing the diverse needs of the community.

In his role with Santa Barbara County, he partnered with the Sheriff, and led a group of dedicated individuals, staff, and partners to deliver a groundbreaking rehabilitative jail facility model, showcasing commitment to progressive approaches in criminal justice. Additionally, over 18 months, in his delegated role of Emergency Operations Center Director, and Director of Recovery for the Thomas Fire and Montecito's debris flow, he demonstrated his adept leadership in crisis management, compassion and community recovery efforts.

Mr. Pontes earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry and Natural Resources from Cal Poly, where he specialized in wildfire and sustainable land management practices. Pending approval of his contract on Tuesday, his first day on the job will be Monday, April 29th, 2024.

Mr. Pontes says he is looking forward to working alongside Acting CAO Rebecca Campbell, who will resume her duties as Assistant CAO.