When Sandy Parks was growing up in suburban St. Louis she had no expectations that she would eventually become the acting agricultural commissioner of San Diego County. The current phase of Parks’ 22-year history working for the County of San Diego is as the interim head of the Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures (AWM).
“I’m just trying to keep its operations running smoothly while they’re recruiting for a new commissioner,” Parks said.
Lisa Leondis had been the county’s agricultural commissioner and sealer of weights and measures prior to her retirement March 29, which the county proclaimed Lisa Leondis Day.
Parks has three of the 12 certifications needed to become a county agricultural commissioner. Leondis, who took over the top AWM position in 2011 after Robert Atkins retired, had worked for the department since 1987. Parks has worked for AWM for the past 3 1/2 years, joining the department as a deputy director and serving in that role for two years before becoming the assistant director 1 1/2 years ago.
When Parks is not serving as the interim agriculture commissioner, her roles focus on administrative elements such as finance, human resources, and information technology. She also oversees the plant health and pest prevention division. “We try to keep the bad bugs out of the county,” she said.
Parks followed her suburban St. Louis childhood with her studies at Arizona State University, where she was a marketing major. She joined the County of San Diego after college. “I worked my way west,” she said.
AWM is part of the county’s Land Use and Environment Group which also includes the Department of Environmental Health, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Planning and Development Services (formerly the Department of Planning and Land Use). Parks worked for DPR, DEH, and DPLU prior to joining AWM.
“I just love it. It’s the best department,” Parks said of AWM.
The recruiting process to fill Leondis’ position closed March 29. Applicants are in the process of being interviewed, and Parks expects a new agricultural commissioner to be named by June 1.
As the interim commissioner, Parks can sign judgments, although she is not allowed to sign notices of proposed actions. Other AWM staff members, however, have the credentials to issue such notices.