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County Hires Patch Editor as Public Information Officer

Looking to bolster its communication efforts, county brings on longtime Novato journalist to implement a roadmap for improved outreach to the community.

Longtime Novato journalist Brent Ainsworth, who launched Novato Patch in November 2010 and served as it editor ever since, has been hired by the county of Marin as its first public information officer in eight years.

Ainsworth, a former editor and reporter at the Marin Independent Journal, hopes to bolster the county's public information and communication efforts. He joins the county "in a time of renewed effort to improve public information and community engagement, particularly when the county has reduced its workforce, restructured services and programs, and recognizes a need to better communicate changes with residents," according to county officials

“One of our core responsibilities is to provide accurate, timely and coordinated information to the public, and also provide better opportunities for resident feedback," Judy Arnold, president of the Marin County Board Supervisors, said in statement. "We look forward to Brent helping improve our efforts and increasing transparency of county government."

Ainsworth's primary role is to implement the county’s Public Communications Plan, a road map for better communications adopted in January 2012. He'll manage news and information on the county’s newly updated and modernized website. He also hopes to improve the county's social media presence and serve as a primary public information source for the county.

“Brent knows the community well and is a veteran journalist who has covered all facets of community news, which were key reasons we chose to work with him,” County Administrator Matthew Hymel said.

"I'm thrilled to join the county team," said Ainsworth, who is being hired on a contract with a salary commensurate to $81,000 annually. "My mission will be to help document the achievements and important decisions being made every day at the Civic Center. Lots of those decisions have a profound effect on county residents. There is no shortage of news to be shared."

The County has not had a public information officer since 2005, when the position was eliminated due to budget constraints.

In 2009, 65 percent of residents polled said the County was doing a “fair” to “very poor” job of providing information about County priorities, services and programs, which in part stimulated the renewed effort.

Craig Belfor February 28, 2013 at 02:22 PM
I'm not usually in favor of highly paid cheerleaders, like the one Novato hired, but with the time Brent puts in to whatever he does, the county will only spend about 12 cents an hour.
kim huff February 28, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Congratulations to Brent. He's put an incredible amount of time into the Patch and I know he will put as much time and effort into this new position. I look forward to hearing more from him on a wider range of subjects.
Sylvia Barry February 28, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Congratulations, Brent and County of Marin! Looking forward to timely, accurate and priority information from the county!
Pauline Hanson February 28, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Great news, Brent! Congratulations!!!!!!!
Cheryl Paddack February 28, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Brent, congratulations! We look forward to increased communications, connecting local and county news and happenings. Our community communications will be stronger with you at the PIO helm. Cheryl
Tom MacDonald February 28, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Well deserved, Brent. The County made a great decision. Best wishes. This will be great for you and your family. Tom
Will Lamers February 28, 2013 at 05:06 PM
County is getting a good asset in Brent, seemed to me that he was honest and fair in his reporting, and willing to admit and correct errors. Best of luck on your new job!
Jerry February 28, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Good move on the County's part. A talented, conscientious journalist who keeps the big picture in focus and knows the area and its people.Good luck!
Brant February 28, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Arnold says: "One of our core responsibilities is to provide accurate, timely and coordinated information to the public, and also provide better opportunities for resident feedback". If she, the Board, and the staff are serious about that, then they could not have hired a better PIO. Brent's integrity and presentation of unbiased information is what makes him great.
Novato Independent Elders Program February 28, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Congratulations Brent, The County is fortunate to have you at the helm!
Craig Belfor February 28, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Hey-I just realized! We now have a person working at County who lives in and is partial to Novato! This is almost like having our own representative on the board. I know he can't vote, but he'll keep us abreast of the latest news that could affect us.
Doug Kelly February 28, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Brent is an honest reporter of facts as well as a great guy, good hire.
Bob Ratto March 01, 2013 at 02:25 AM
This will prove interesting over time...Novato stated they wanted improved communications with citizens, and hired a communications czar, and now the County has hired Brent, who did more for communications in Novato than ever before, but ironically, (to my knowledge) did not receive any thanks from any city officials. That could be cynically construed as hypocrisy, or perhaps just not caring. Brent is going to do great things for the county as long as gets the latitude he needs.
Tom Walsh March 01, 2013 at 06:42 AM
Congrats to Brent, he'll be missed at Novato Patch but the whole county will benefit from his new role at Marin County.
John Parnell March 02, 2013 at 05:59 AM
Bob - Great points. Brent is The Man - loved by us all & the unofficial mayor of Novato. Maybe we can give him a latitude adjustment & elevate his position to Czar status, or go one better & make him the first Mayor of Marin.
Erin Stone March 02, 2013 at 05:30 PM
"We look forward to Brent helping improve our efforts and increasing transparency of county government." states Judy Arnold Why does Judy Arnold and The Board of Supervisors have closed door meetings then?(computer settlement, refund of cities funds)..Transparency? Brent will bring transparency, but will the Board of Supervisor's try to muzzle him?

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