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New Gorin aide has roots in Sonoma Valley

Six years ago, Liz Hamon was working at a money management firm in San Francisco. Six years before that, she was running an Italian restaurant in Australia.

Six years before that, she was living in the Springs with her three children. And, despite her travels and changes in career and family, it’s the Sonoma Valley she has always considered her home.

“When I lived in Australia, this is the place that brought me back,” she said.

Hamon is one of two new administrative aides for 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin – both added to the team in February. Along with Arielle Kubu-Jones, Hamon shies from calling herself “the Springs representative,” though she lives in westernmost Sonoma, only a block away from the unincorporated area known as the Springs.

And she frequently finds herself doing her work at the supervisor’s local Grove Street office, where she juggles myriad requests, large and not-so-large, from 1st District constituents.

“I listen to all the constituents, taking phone calls and email every single day,” on topics ranging from the lack of public parking in the Springs, complaints about vacation rentals in the neighborhoods, or rain-caused erosion in the burned areas along Cavedale Road outside of Glen Ellen.

Then there’s cannabis. “This is a new area for everyone,” she said last week, as she made plans to attend the City of Sonoma’s second town hall.

It wasn’t a meeting she had to attend – the county’s cannabis regulations and policies are different than the city’s, it’s a separate jurisdiction altogether. But as a responsible county employee she wants to have full embrace of the topic. (She had attended the Board of Supervisors meeting a day earlier, on April 10, which included a marathon five-hour session of public comment, policy wrangling and conflicting testimony from rural residents and growers – a sort of slow-motion crash course in governance).

But if the work load appears daunting to an outsider, Hamon doesn’t appear overwhelmed. “I find it to be wonderful and exciting – nothing feels challenging yet,” she says – perhaps inoculated by nine years manning the office and public contact for that money market firm, during a decade when some fortunes were rising, and others falling.

“The biggest challenge is there’s a lot to do, and just not enough time,” she admits. “But it’s that way in our lives, really – there’s so many important issues and we try to be effective, to give enough attention to each one.”

Of course juggling multiple issues is part of the job, especially when your boss is a county supervisor, and perhaps more especially when that supervisor is Susan Gorin. “I’ve never met anyone like her,” says Hamon. “She’s super-connected. I’m amazed by her ability to do such a hard job.

“And she’s got incredible stamina. It’s more than physical, there’s her emotional stamina too,” a characteristic that has been put to the test over the past six months, ever since the October fires incinerated the supervisor’s own home.

Gorin takes care to call give both Hamon and Kubu-Jones equal responsibilities, and similar roles in her office. “We want to present ourselves as a District 1 team,” she says, echoing Gorin’s own resolve to keep her small staff (longtime aide Pat Gilardi being the third), coordinated and equal.

But in these first few months of the new staff, Kubu-Jones has become the supervisor’s default fire-response aide, and Hamon has, necessarily, been the main contact for Sonoma Valley issues, and local board and commission appointments.

The mother of three – and grandmother of three, too, though that news is a surprise to anyone who has met her – wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s super-wonderful to see all the changes here in the Springs,” she says, remembering that she has lived in the area, on and off, for over 30 years. “Everyone wants to see all the changes happen in a balanced way, and keep it a place where locals can go and shop and live.”

She mentions an upcoming meeting of the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission, which will evaluate plans for the Boyes Food Center, and another to review the Springs Community Plan.

Already she has her finger on the pulse of the Valley, and the district, and the one place she’s always considered her home.

Contact Christian at christian.kallen@sonomanews.com.