County officials prepare for nationwide search to find a suitable replacement

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — San Luis Obispo County Administrative Officer (CAO) Wade Horton has resigned from his position, County Counsel Rita Neal announced following a Board of Supervisors closed session on Tuesday. Horton’s resignation comes amid a request for his performance evaluation, which was initiated by a member of the SLO County Board of Supervisors several weeks ago. County officials have not disclosed which supervisor requested the review.

Although the board agenda refers to an “annual performance evaluation” of Horton, this was the first performance review scheduled since he was appointed as head of the county in 2017. During the closed session on Tuesday, March 21, the board unanimously accepted Horton’s resignation with a 5-0 vote.

“We can’t thank Mr. Horton enough for his honorable and committed dedication to the County of San Luis Obispo,” said John Peschong, the Board of Supervisors Chairman. “He is a true public servant that has made a real difference in the County throughout his tenure.”


Horton began working for the county’s Administrative Office as the County Administrator in 2017. Prior to that, he served as the County’s Public Works Director and the Deputy Director of Utilities/Water for the City of San Luis Obispo.

The specific reason behind Horton’s resignation has not been disclosed. In a statement, Horton expressed gratitude for his time serving the county, “It has been an absolute privilege to serve the Board, organization, and residents of San Luis Obispo County for the last 8 years,” he said. “I am proud of all we have accomplished together.”

Officials have announced that the County will soon begin a nationwide search for a new County Administrative Officer to fill the vacant position. In the meantime, it remains unclear who will serve as the interim CAO during the transition period.

As the search for Horton’s replacement commences, the county will undoubtedly seek a candidate with strong leadership skills and a background in public administration. The new CAO will be responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the county, implementing policies set forth by the Board of Supervisors, and ensuring that the needs of the county’s residents are met.

Horton’s departure signifies the end of a significant chapter for San Luis Obispo County, particularly given his crucial role as the County Emergency Services Director throughout the challenging COVID-19 pandemic. 

While the specific reasons for his resignation are yet to be known, the influence Horton had on the county throughout his tenure, particularly during extraordinary times, will undoubtedly be remembered.

As San Luis Obispo County moves forward, both its leaders and residents will certainly be attentive to the individual who will take on the role of the new County Administrative Officer, as well as the trajectory they will set for the county in the upcoming years.