Wilson climbs the ladder

Chris Wilson has spent the last year-and-a-half working with staff to develop and improve a number of fledgling county environmental programs, actively watching the programs mature and take on lives of their own.

He learned Friday that the next welcome challenge will be faced as assistant planning director, the position that Jeff Tate recently vacated to accept the department’s head spot.

“I had applied for it and I knew the decision was going to be made soon,” Wilson said. “I am excited and nervous at the same time. I have felt the entire spectrum of emotions as they relate to the challenges that lie ahead for me.

“I know I have big shoes to fill and I welcome the challenges.”

Tate said Wilson, in his 10-plus years with the county serving in various capacities, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the job.

“I look at the assistant director position as a partner in leading the planning department and look forward to the experience and style that Chris brings to the position,” he said. “We have different management styles and personalities that, I believe, will complement each other as we move the planning department forward.”

As the county’s resource enhancement manager under the auspices of the Planning Department, Wilson has overseen, among other projects, the salmon recovery and water quality monitoring programs. With an experienced staff under him, his team created from scratch programs that other counties have tried to emulate.

“When I first came here, my division within planning didn’t even exist,” he said.

Wilson is comfortable leaving his current position now that the complex water quality monitoring program has grown legs. “We have had enough time to massage out most of the kinks in the program,” he said.

As the program has expanded, other benefits have revealed themselves in areas like salmon recovery. As a result, the county has been able to forego outsourcing some services by using in-house capabilities.

“We’ve accomplished a ton of work,” Wilson said. “We took a complex program grounded and rooted in science and made it operational. And other beneficial services have grown out of it.”

Through his multi-faceted job duties, the affable county employee has networked and built strong relationships with other departments. Wilson’s laid back, pragmatic outlook, coupled with the experience he’s gleaned during his time as resource enhancement manager, should serve him well in his new position.

“The planning staff is great, and I am thankful that we have them,” he said. “I’m a very approachable person and I think that will really help the transition.”

Wilson will don two hats, at least for the next few weeks. With several deadlines looming it is likely that the transition will occur slowly.

“Changing my office location will take place incrementally,” he said. “I’m not done yet. “I’ll take a box at a time across the street.”

With creativity and “outside-the-box” thinking, Wilson has learned to get results without ballooning budgets.

“Chris is not a planner which means that he looks at things differently,” Tate said. “It is a fresh perspective in which he is always looking for ways to get the job done in a creative and efficient way. In his past role, he has always had to be very cost conscious and he is always concerned about how government impacts people’s day to day lives.

“I am lucky to have him accept the position.”

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