MENDOCINO Co., 1/28/20 — It’s a new year, and with it, Mendocino County has yet another new (interim) cannabis manager, the third in as many years: Megan Dukett, who previously worked as the program administrator for the consolidated county parks, library, and museum department, and will now supervise the county’s cannabis permitting process, including overseeing the approval of applications already in process, assisting with researching potential changes to the county’s current regulations, and assisting both potential applicants and current permit holders with the local compliance process.
Dukett’s appointment to an interim position — made without an open hiring process — follows the departure of the county’s second full-time cannabis cultivation manager, and first internal hire, Sean Connell, who resigned in October, 2019 after working for less than ten months, and the abrupt departure of the first person to helm the program, Kelly Overton, who stayed less than four months before quietly taking off to the desert in June, 2018.
Dukett will be working within the Planning and Building department, whereas Overton worked in the ag department, a change that occurred during Connell’s tenure, who was working in that department, before becoming cannabis manager.
The cannabis program manager position was not openly advertised for public applications as with previous hires, and the current occupant thus holds the position on an interim basis. Director of Planning and Building Brent Schultz explained in an interview that he is authorized to make such interim appointments. He added that he’d been looking for someone that would be a good fit. Schultz noted that he had heard good reviews of Dukett’s work with program management and policy implementation and was excited to have her started in the job.
According to the county’s press release and her LinkedIn, Dukett worked as the Education and Interpretive Program Director at Mission San Juan Capistrano prior to her employment with the Mendocino County, and began her position with the county’s cultural services agency in late September, 2018, according to Mendocino County’s Human Resources Director William Shurtz.
During its brief existence the cannabis program position has seen significant turnover, as have a number of other positions within the cannabis unit, which since its creation in 2017 has moved from the agriculture department to oversight by the county CEO’s office and undergone a move to the planning department. You can see the previous job requirements here, (and also read our previous coverage of the position since the first mention of hiring a “cannabis czar” cropped up at a county supervisors meeting.)
Both previous hires have left under somewhat mysterious circumstances — Kelly was first absent from several meetings for unexplained reasons, then posted about a vacation on social media, before a formal announcement of his departure was made. Connell for his part cited professional differences. According to governmentjobs.com, a government transparency organization, the position pays between $76,710 and $93,225 annually, plus benefits.
Dukett’s first day as cannabis program manager was January 12, and she made her first brief public appearance at a cannabis ad hoc committee town hall in Laytonville on Wednesday evening. At the meeting, Dukett gave a brief introduction and then was largely quiet, while her sister Sarah Dukett, with the County Executive Office, brought the microphone around to members of the crowd to comment. Dukett’s sister, Sarah, has increasingly worked on the county’s cannabis regulatory program as she has risen the ranks in the CEO’s office, often contributing to discussions or giving presentations during supervisors’ meetings.
The county government announced her hiring in a press release on January 23, included below. In it, Dukett is quoted as saying, “I am excited to join the Cannabis Program and contribute toward our department’s shared goals of structuring a more streamlined process for cultivation permit applicants to obtain and renew their permits. I look forward to working collaboratively with our staff in strengthening the Cannabis Program with professionalism and attention to customer service.”
Dukett is taking over a program that still has hundreds of applications for cultivation permits awaiting final approval. In addition, a new round of permit applications scheduled to begin in July under “Phase Three” of the county’s cultivation ordinance. The seemingly endlessly beset program has also been instructed by the Board of Supervisors to identify ways to streamline the permitting system, and allow legacy growers to more easily come into compliance. Many members of the public commented on these items at Tuesday’s cannabis ad hoc committee town hall in Laytonville. In addition to the two agricultural inspectors and the program director position, the county’s cannabis program also includes a program administrator position, a senior administrative assistant, and an administrative assistance, within the planning department, for a total of six permanent staff jobs.
Planning and Building Director Schultz noted that potential re-opening of applications for legacy growers, as well as implementation of the upcoming Phase Three of permit applications, (both of which remain under discussion) will require additional work from the staff, but said of Dukett, “She’s going to be great in getting those programs in place.” During the Laytonville town hall, Schultz emphasized the demands of staff time that the cannabis program required, and said that planning and building staff were working hard to keep up with the volume of inquiries related to the cannabis application and permit approval process, along with changes to both local and state regulations and cannabis tax appeals. In a later interview, he reiterated his goal to streamline the program, as well as address the changes and research requested by the supervisors.
Here’s the full press release from the county:
Megan Dukett Name Cannabis Program Manager for the County of Mendocino
Post Date: 01/23/2020 2:08 PM
The Mendocino County Planning and Building Services Director is pleased to announce the hiring of Megan Dukett as the County’s Acting Cannabis Program Manager. Ms. Dukett previously worked for the County’s Cultural Services Agency as the Program Administrator for the County Parks and County Museum making many positive improvements in programing and staff development including successfully improving systems and policies to better serve the public. Prior to the coming to the County, Ms. Dukett worked for various historic sites, museums, and parks in program management and has a seasoned background in program development and management, staff and volunteer leadership, strategic planning, process development, and customer service. Ms. Dukett has a Bachelor of Arts degree and comes to our department highly recommended for her experience in project management.
As the Cannabis Program Manager, Ms. Dukett will coordinate implementation of County policies, working to effectively implement the Cannabis Program, develop streamlining process improvements that will benefit the Cannabis Program and assist the public in the application and permitting process.
Planning and Building Services Director Brent Schultz, commented on Ms. Dukett’s hiring, “I’m excited to welcome Megan to our team. She has a background in improving systems, running programs, while providing great customer service. Her enthusiasm and collaborative attitude will bring energy and stability to our program.”
Commenting on her new position, Ms. Dukett stated, “I am excited to join the Cannabis Program and contribute toward our department’s shared goals of structuring a more streamlined process for cultivation permit applicants to obtain and renew their permits. I look forward to working collaboratively with our staff in strengthening the Cannabis Program with professionalism and attention to customer service.”
For more information, please contact Brent Schultz, Mendocino County Planning and Building Services Director at (707) 234-6650.Mendocino County press release, 1/23/20.