CEO Candidate Who Rejected OC Loses Her Contract Back Home

Chandra Wallar

Chandra L. Wallar, who rejected an offer to become Orange County CEO, has lost her CEO contract in Santa Barbara County. (Photo by: Noozhawk)

Chandra Wallar, the Santa Barbara County CEO who turned down Orange County, has now been rejected by her own Board of Supervisors.

This week, the Lompoc Record reported that Santa Barbara County supervisors announced after a closed session that they would not renew Wallar's three-year contract when it expires in October.

Wallar recently rejected overtures from the Orange County Board Supervisors to become its CEO because the two sides couldn't agree on compensation.

The negotiations between Wallar and the supervisors came after Voice of OC revealed she was the top candidate to replace retired CEO Tom Mauk, who left in 2012 after a top county executive, Carlos Bustamante, was charged with felony sex crimes by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

Wallar’s negotiations were ultimately upended after her salary request erupted into a public debate over executive salary and pension compensation.

Wallar did not respond to a request for comment. Santa Barbara County Counsel Dennis Marshall also declined comment, saying minutes from the closed session would be available Thursday from the clerk of the board.

In a Wednesday interview, Orange County Supervisor Pat Bates, who was on a salary negotiating team with Supervisor Janet Nguyen, remained supportive of Wallar. “Her background is stellar. Her salary expectation was, well, we just couldn’t meet it,” Bates said.

“She was not willing to go any lower,” said Bates, alluding to the uncomfortable and unprecedented public debate between supervisors last month over Wallar’s annual compensation request, which neared the $300,000 mark.

To date, the supervisors have largely remained focused maintaining the $262,000 total compensation package given to Mauk.

While Bates said she was supportive of renewing negotiations with Waller but that any outreach to Wallar would be up to Orange County supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson, who was in Washington, D.C.

Nelson didn’t sound as if he was interested, saying that Waller had already turned down Orange County’s offer.

That may turn the search for the next CEO toward the internal ranks.

“We’ve got some great talent here,” Bates said. “And when you’re looking at agencies, it’s focused on what I’ve been talking about … — building a bench.”

Please contact Norberto Santana Jr. directly at nsantana@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/norbertosanana.

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