Carlos PalaciosCounty Administrative Officer
In 1992, Mr. Palacios moved to the city of Watsonville, taking on the role of assistant finance officer before being promoted to City Manager, a role he served in for almost 20 years. During that time, Mr. Palacios supervised all city departments and oversaw a profound transformation in Watsonville, helping modernize their economy in the face of challenges from NAFTA and other global economic forces. As City Manager of Watsonville, he helped implement downtown revitalization and business retention programs, recycling and solar programs, spearheaded development of the wetlands trail network and supported agricultural water recycling programs, developed the Civic Plaza Building, and helped create new revenues for public safety, and implemented strategic planning and two-year budgeting.
In 2015, he came to the County of Santa Cruz and was named County Administrative Officer in August 2017, overseeing nearly 2,500 employees and the County’s annual budget process, and is the first Latino leader in the County's 168-year history. Since that time, he has implemented the County's first Strategic Plan, two-year budgeting and continuous process improvement. He initiated bringing the Public Defender’s Office to County government which had previously been a contract with a private law firm for over 40 years. He established the Housing for Health Division to oversee and coordinate the County’s response to the homelessness crisis. He has overseen the establishment of the Office for Response, Recovery and Resilience to lead the County’s emergency preparedness and climate action plan efforts. He led the County through the COVID-19 Pandemic and CZU Lightning Complex Fire emergency responses.
Mr. Palacios also sits on several joint powers authorities and local boards, including the Regional 911 Center, Santa Cruz Public Libraries and Central Coast Community Energy. Mr. Palacios is one of several Santa Cruz County elected leaders and staff who led the effort to establish Central Coast Community Energy.