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Walsh joins Merced Supervisors amid big challenges

Supervisor-elect Hub Walsh campaigned to change county government and improve its image, a goal that may prove elusive as the Board of Supervisors faces extensive challenges.

State impacts and touches of internal cynicism may hinder Walsh's ability to shift how the county operates or how it is viewed.His top two goals are to restore the public's faith in county government and to create an environment that would attract more businesses.

However, he'll be one of five supervisors elected at a time when the county's focused on an impending financial crisis, not expanding its programs or goals.

When he assumes office in January, he'll be faced with tough choices as the county grapples with shrinking revenues and, most likely, more pressure on its social programs that help the poor and unemployed.

"We're in a depressed time right now,” District 1 Supervisor John Pedrozo said Wednesday. "Things are as minimal as possible to stay afloat."

County government grew in the past couple years. Now, like the economy, it's shrinking.

Walsh, who served on the Merced City Council and as the city's mayor, touted his 30 years of government experience as a key factor in him winning the District 2 seat, which represents most of Merced. He's currently Madera County's social services director, but will leave his post to serve as a full-time supervisor.

With local government's financial hemorrhaging, that experience could mean that he knows where to tie the tourniquets.