The 2022 Fall County Officials Institute (COI) has wrapped just in time for newly elected county officials to take office and for the legislative session to begin. The training spanned two days this year and was held in three locations around the state from November to December. The training, facilitated by the Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) and the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP), was especially crucial this year as Idaho will have many new county officials after this year’s general elections.
The training, held in Moscow, Idaho Falls, and Boise, provided ample opportunity for new and incumbent county officials and county staff to connect with one another and learn from IAC policy staff and ICRMP’s Risk Management Specialist Jim McNall, who will be retiring at the end of the year after a long career in county governance. The training focused on curriculum relevant to all county elected officials and county staff. Ethics, roles and responsibilities, how to conduct a public meeting, and personnel management were among popular training topics.
“We had record turnout this year for our Fall County Officials Institute,” said IAC Executive Director Seth Grigg. “I was impressed with the caliber of our newly elected officials — they were highly engaged and asked great questions.”
IAC and ICRMP took time introducing their respective organizations to counties and affirm their positions as trusted resources for county needs and education. Attendees received a copy of the “10 Fast Facts About IAC” booklet that highlights how the organization supports counties through lobbying, conferences, networking, programs and services, publications and technical assistance, county news, corporate partners, workshops, trainings, and by finding innovative ways to advocate for local control.
Sara Westbrook, IAC Director of Governmental Affairs, facilitated an interactive icebreaker that demonstrated the need for clear communication. The results of the “blind drawings” illustrated how easily messages and instructions can be misinterpreted when comparing the drawings to their original objects. The activity produced many laughs and surprised reactions, and it laid the foundation for open communication and collaboration among new and returning county officials and staff.
The training also featured multiple panels at each of the locations that gave seasoned county officials a platform to address the attendees and share their lived experiences. “A highlight of the training for me was the panel discussions,” said Westbrook. “Every panelist had something relevant and insightful to share.”
One group of panelists consisted of county commissioners who spoke to members about the roles and responsibilities of their elected positions. Another panel of row officials shared highlights of their duties, as well as some of the challenges and tools for navigating them. “Across the state, the panelists demonstrated that though their jobs can be difficult at times, the ability to serve the folks in their counties makes the time and effort worth it,” said Westbrook.
“The IAC County Officials Institute provides a great introduction to county government and is a valuable source of continuing education training for county officials,” said Grigg. “Those attending this year will begin their term in office with a foundational knowledge of county government.”
While the training may be over, the work of a county elected official is never done, and new and incumbent officials will be kicking into high gear with the legislative session starting this January.
“I enjoyed getting to see familiar faces, as well as getting to know the newly elected officials,” said Westbrook. “I look forward to working with counties closely during the legislative session.”
The 2023 Spring COI will take place in four locations around the state this May. Keep an eye on our events page and our newsletter for more details. You can also follow us on social media to stay updated on the latest news and events: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.