Board OKs contract for newly appointed Placer County CEO ‘with unique set of skills’

Placer County

The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a two-year contract for Jane Christenson as county executive officer, a job she’s held on an interim basis for several months after her predecessor was fired.

In a 5-0 vote, the board OK’d Christenson’s contract with a starting annual salary of $272,875. County officials said she was selected from a field of 15 candidates for the job after a nationwide search.

“I am truly honored to serve in this capacity,” Christenson said in a county news release. “Like many on the board, I come from a long tradition of public service in my family.”

Christenson, who lives in Roseville, earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University in New York and a master’s in public administration from UCLA, according to the news release. She grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, and has a daughter in college.

“I think it is important for residents to understand the thoroughness of the process and how united we were in our support for Jane’s appointment,” Supervisor Cindy Gustafson said in the release.

Christenson has experience in land use and budget planning, with nearly three decades of work in local government at agencies along the West Coast, including as deputy city administrator in Redmond, Washington. Before that, she worked at agencies in Sacramento, Coronado and Redondo Beach.

“We had a great cluster of people to interview,” Supervisor Robert Weygandt said in the release. “The second round of interviews was all internal candidates, and all were exemplary, but Jane has a unique set of skills and traits that I know will serve us well.”

Christenson was first hired in January 2019 as the assistant county executive officer under then-CEO Todd Leopold, who fell under public scrutiny after it was revealed that he was driving a vehicle on March 19 that fatally struck 18-year-old Inderkum High School senior Anthony Williams.

Leopold was placed on administrative leave in June, two months after the deadly crash in Rocklin. Christenson was named acting CEO.

Leopold was then fired from his $299,606-a-year job after being accused of workplace discrimination and harassment. The county has said his firing later that month was not related to the fatal accident.

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Leopold’s first public admission in a written statement that he was driving the vehicle came nearly two months after the young man’s death, and two days after the Rocklin Police Department announced that it had completed its investigation and found the driver was not at fault.

After a lengthy review of the police investigation, the Placer County District Attorney’s Office announced in early November that prosecutors would not be filing criminal charges against Leopold in the death of Williams, who was in the middle of the road at night wearing dark clothing. Prosecutors said they found “no evidence of any criminal or wrongful intent” by Leopold.