Regretful to see Supervisor Jack Sweeney Leaving Public Office
If the measure of a good statesman is knowledge, integrity, and hard work, than El Dorado County is losing one of the best.
Jack Sweeney leaves office after 16 years of service as Supervisor for El Dorado County. However, it not his longevity or his agreeability that distinguishes him, but his knowledge and work ethic. He was first elected in 1984 and served two four-year terms. He returned in 2004 and was again reelected in 2008.
Many people have disagreed with Jack on issues and he even faced a recall effort because of his stance. The recall petition failed being short the required number of voter signatures to even make it to an election. Nevertheless, this is life in politics for any policy maker that actually does their job. Some less honorable elected officials shy away from any controversial decisions but the great politicians make the call and take ownership of it.
The public elects politicians to make the hard decisions, not to worry about how those decisions will effect the next election. In making those decisions there are always those that agree with the decision and those that do not agree. The measure of a great elected official is not if you agree with every decision, but whether there is integrity in their decisions that reflect the nature of the politician that was presented to the voters during the election.
Making policy decisions true to the person presented to the electorate is just one measure of political integrity. In some jurisdictions, Supervisors work part-time, but in El Dorado County they are elected to work full-time and are compensated for a 40-hour workweek. However, this is really on the honor system because the only time mandatory is about 8 hours a week. Even then, one recent Supervisor was bounced from the job because he could not even devote that small amount of time to the taxpayers that paid his salary. In truth, the job takes more than 40 hours a week and the Supervisors get only one paid assistant.
Jack Sweeney is well known to put in more than 40 hours and is always well versed on the subject matter he is called upon to make policy decisions. Up by 5:30 most mornings people often are surprised by early morning e-mails from him when they just saw him at a public meeting the night before. Even today, in his mid-70’s, Jack outworks most people half his age. Not because he has a time clock to punch, but because he believes that he is a public servant, and that is what the job he signed up for requires.
Not only has Jack kept up with the ever-changing legislation which effects nearly every policy decision a Supervisor makes, but he came to the job with a knowledge of the county that might be unmatched by any other Supervisor in modern history.
As a professional surveyor for over 50 years, Jack Sweeney has walked up, down, and over all of El Dorado County. 70 years ago, Jack’s father was elected county recorder, a position he served in for the next 40 years. Sweeney described his interest in politics dating back to 1948 when he started visiting his father in the County Recorder’s Office. Being a spectator at countless official, and unofficial meetings, where he was “a fly on the wall.” He literally cut his teeth seeing how the county elected officials did business.
Jack Sweeney always believed that public service was just that: public "service." Not a place to line pockets or seek public adoration. He was well known to administer frugally and has declined both the county-paid health benefits and the county paid Public Employee Retirement System benefits. This is an amount a “good bit” higher than a 5 percent salary reduction, Sweeny said.
Although many speculate that Jack will run for supervisor again, he has been clear in stating that he will not and he will be pushing 80 before he qualifies to run again. He expressed interest in the Assembly but does not want to deal with the obligations that come with raising the kind of money it takes to run for that office.
Jack will continue to be a fixture in the county as he puts in more time at his surveying business and with consulting work, but the county’s residents will lose one of the most knowledgeable and hardest working Supervisors in most peoples’ recollection. A public servant that truly represented the heart of El Dorado County in every way.
On a personal note, I express a heartfelt Thank you for your many years of untiring service to the people of El Dorado County and I wish you the best in your future endeavors.
Cris Alarcon, Managing Editor, Placerville Newswire.