A fond farewell to Supervisor Ryan Sundberg, ‘advocate for the people’

Daniel Mintz
Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT –  As Board of Supervisors Chair Ryan Sundberg presided over the Dec. 18 meeting, his two terms of public service were commemorated by county staff, other supervisors and his family. 

The meeting was the last one for Sundberg, who was narrowly defeated by Steven Madrone in the June Fifth District supervisor election. 

Sheriff Billy Honsal praised Sundberg for being an “advocate for the people” and for public safety. 

“A lot of times that means we’re meeting with people one on one and I appreciate that you’re always so good with people and you’re good with the Sheriff’s Office and you’ve always advocated for everything we’ve needed,” Honsal continued. “I think the north area has benefitted under your leadership.” 

Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg

Honsal presented Sundberg with a boxed deputy’s patch with a certificate thanking Sundberg for his “unwavering support of public safety.” 

Sundberg was also presented with a resolution from the North Coast Resource Partnership, a seven-county regional water management agency that advances proposals for state grant funding. 

The resolution states that Sundberg is “held in the highest regard and is admired by his colleagues” as well as the agency’s staff and water project stakeholders. 

Standing beside Sundberg’s daughter, Sophie, Supervisor Rex Bohn related his appreciation of the Sundberg family. “In the last seven years, the best part about this job was not just becoming friends with Ryan Sundberg, it was becoming part of the Sundberg family,” he said. 

Bohn added that Sundberg was a moderating influence on him, advising him on what and can’t be done within government bureaucracy.  

Bohn also commented on the election dynamics. “When he first got elected, he won and it was a close election so it wasn’t a mandate,” he said. “He lost this time and it wasn’t a mandate.”  

The election discourse was sharply-worded at times and included cross-allegations. But Madrone joined the praise of Sundberg’s work, thanking him “for all your hard work and your service.” 

He added, “I look forward to getting advice from you occasionally when you can help me out with my new role and thank you for all you’ve done for the Fifth District and for Humboldt County.”

Other supervisors took turns crediting Sundberg’s work and relating their positive experiences with him, with first term Supervisor Mike Wilson saying that “he’s been a great mentor to me.” 

County Administrative Officer Amy Nilsen thanked Sundberg for his “tremendous” work related to the Measure Z public safety sales tax and Measure O, which extended it indefinitely. 

When it was Sundberg’s turn to speak, he said that “it’s been amazing” and he credited the work of county staff. 

“Our department heads are extremely dedicated, they listen and they work very, very hard,” he said, adding that it’s been “a great honor” to work with them. 

Sundberg extended the same appreciation for his colleagues on the board. 

Members of Sundberg’s family also commented, with his wife, Kim, saying, “I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how proud we are of you – Sophie and me and our people, we love you and appreciate you very much.” 

After applause from the audience, Sundberg fulfilled his role as board chair. “Back to business,” he said. 

The business included supervisors deciding to delay an at-large Planning Commission appointment to Jan. 15. 

Doing do avoids the controversy of making a board appointment close to the end of the existing term and before Madrone takes office in the first week of January. 

The board also approved a pay raise for the position of county supervisor. Each supervisor now earns about $85,000 a year in base salary. That will rise by four percent over the next two years. 


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