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.