Saying it was an offer he couldn't refuse, Ventura County Public Health Officer Gary Feldman has quit to become Riverside County public health director.
"My leaving is to seize an opportunity in my professional life, it's not because I was unhappy in Ventura," said Feldman, who has held his current job since 1993 and has worked in the county since 1976. "They made an offer I couldn't refuse both in terms of professional growth and the structure of the situation."
Feldman, 55, will supervise about 600 employees in his new position, which begins next month. He supervised 12 employees in Ventura County.
During his tenure with the $117,000 job in Ventura County, Feldman began a child-immunization registry to track shots that children receive and set up a system to monitor local health trends.
"I think my biggest accomplishment really was intangible," he said. "I saw my role as being someone who could see all sides of health issues and try to bring both sides together."
Critics and supporters have variously described Feldman as "super-intelligent," "extremely liberal" and an administrator with "political talent."
He has often taken controversial positions that have drawn flak, such as his opposition to a proposition denying illegal immigrants public health services and his support of the aerial malathion spraying in Camarillo.
But Feldman considers his positions in the public health arena to be conservative.
"I don't perceive myself as a liberal in that regard," he said.
"I think the real message in the end in public health is that people have to be responsible for their behaviors."