Dennis Townsend designated as Tulare County chairman

Dennis Townsend serves as the head of the table for Tulare County Board of Supervisors, Larry Micari succeeds vice chair position

VISALIA – County Supervisor Dennis Townsend, representative of district 5, was nominated by his peers to take the center seat of the dias as the new chairman of the county board of supervisors.

At the board’s first meeting of the year on Jan. 10, Supervisor Townsend moved seats from the county’s vice chair to chairman, succeeding outgoing chairman Eddie Valero. Supervisor Larry Micari, representative of district 1, was nominated for Townsend’s former role as vice chair. Townsend comes into the leading position with goals to focus on primary county functions as well as public safety and infrastructure.

“We’re going to continue business as usual, but I’d like to highlight the things that are coming in, because they are numerous,” Townsend said. “There are improvements that are going to be made in firefighting, in the sheriff’s department and also infrastructure.”

Townsend was first elected to the board of supervisors 2018. No stranger to Tulare County, he is a graduate of Porterville’s Monache High School. After high school, he obtained an Associate Arts degree from College of the Sequoias and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelors of Arts degree in architecture. Aside from his current responsibilities as the board’s newest chairman, he is a licensed architect and owner of Townsend Architectural Group in Porterville. Additionally, he is a member of the Springville Chamber of Commerce, where he was honored as “Man of the Year” in 2009.

Before he was elected onto the board of supervisors, Townsend was encouraged by former supervisors to take the seat for himself. Although he was not initially interested in running for the seat, continued support from people around him began to change his standing. Ultimately, his wife Cece was one of the biggest contributors in his decision to join the board. Although he initially thought she would turn the idea down, he said that she inspired him in his decision by reminding him of his everyday request in their daily prayers: a sense of direction. With so many signs pointing towards him taking on the role, he decided to seize the opportunity.

“At the swearing in ceremony that we did here four years ago is when it really hit me that this is where I need to be for this particular era in my life,” Townsend said.

At the meeting, outgoing chairman Eddie Valero, representative of district 4, recapped his time as the head of the dias. He said his time as chairman both challenged and fostered his leadership capacity. He praised the accomplishments of the board as they worked to aid underserved communities, connect people to resources, make tough calls on land issues, investing in and protecting residents and businesses, providing leadership opportunities to youth communities, keeping the Tulare County community whole and being an advocate for the underserved, amongst other achievements.

“As I reflect on my time in this position thus far, and especially within the past year, I’ve been unquestionably blessed because of the hard work we’ve accomplished,” Valero said.

In addition to the board’s chair and vice chair being chosen, supervisors Townsend and Valero were also officially sworn in to their positions on the board following the November 2022 election. Townsend ran unopposed in his seat for district 5 and Valero secured his seat against his election challenger Scott Harness with 52.5% of the district 4 vote.

Furthermore, also sworn in was Tara K. Freitas as the county’s assessor clerk-recorder. In her new role, Freitas is responsible for providing public information service to assist taxpayers with questions about their property ownership and assessments.

“It’s an honor and privilege to represent the great constituents of Tulare County, and to be trusted with the great work we do in our office,” Freitas said.

Also at the meeting, Cass Cook was sworn in as the county’s auditor-controller/treasurer-tax collector. In his role, Cook is the chief accounting officer and dispersing officer for the county, and will maintain the county’s accounting records going forward.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity and humbled for it, and committed to doing the work and doing it well,” Cook said. “There are some exciting opportunities ahead of us and I’m looking forward to taking on those challenges.”

As the district 5 representative, Chairman Townsend represents Porterville, Springville, Terra Bella, Alpine, Ducor, Camp Nelson, California Hot Springs, Posey, Kennedy Meadows, Ponderosa, Sequoia Crest and surrounding Tulare County. 

On behalf of the board of supervisors, Townsend serves on the following committees: Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee – Alternate; East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency; Foreign Trade Zone Committee; Golden State Connect Authority; Golden State Finance Authority; Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee; the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO); Lake Success Enlargement Project/Tule River Improvement JPA; Program Review Committee (Space Planning) – Ad Hoc; Retirement Committee – Ad Hoc; Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC); Sierra Nevada Conservancy; San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority Board – Alternate; Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG); Tulare County Transportation Authority (Measure R); Tulare County Water Commission – Alternate; Tule River Basin Feasibility Study Group; and the Tule River Tribe Fee-to Trust – Ad Hoc.

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