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Councilwoman listens, learns on job

Listening, Jan Arbuckle said, is her priority as both a Grass Valley City Council member and a volunteer helping Sacramento County Sheriff’s officers and their families deal with the aftermath of critical incidents.

And if Arbuckle is preparing to lead the City Council in a new philosophical direction, she’s keeping much of that to herself.

She said she is neither pro-growth nor pro-development.



“I’m in the middle,” Arbuckle said. “I look at everything on a case-by-case basis.”

Nearly two months have passed since Arbuckle, 56, was sworn in to finish the term of Councilman Dean Williams, who resigned in December 2006. The retired sheriff’s officer said she’s been busier meeting the public and hearing their concerns than expressing her own viewpoints.




During her first few council meetings, Arbuckle has said little. That’s intentional, she said.

“I want to gather all the information I can and talk to as many people as I get the chance to,” Arbuckle said. To go ahead and begin speaking on issues she doesn’t yet know much about would be inappropriate, she said.

“My personal opinion is not what this position is about,” Arbuckle said.

Arbuckle said she’s been busy returning constituent phone calls, meeting with developers, community activist groups and average citizens as she begins learning on the job.

The approach has served her well so far, Arbuckle said.

As a peer support coordinator with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Arbuckle listens and refers officers and their families for professional counseling after critical incidents that could traumatize them.

She has volunteered as the peer support coordinator for the past 10 years, calling that work the highlight of her professional career.

“I’ve seen so many officers’ lives and careers saved” because of the counseling, Arbuckle said.

It’s Arbuckle’s listening ability and her calm demeanor that council members cited in their decision to appoint her.

Arbuckle was picked from among 11 candidates in late January to replace Williams, who resigned two years into his four-year term, citing professional and personal reasons.

She’s expected to serve for two years, completing Williams’ unexpired term.

Arbuckle said she has “no idea” if she’ll run for a full four-year term. “We’ll just see how this plays out.”

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and listening to music.

Arbuckle, who was with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department as an officer for 17 years, has lived in Grass Valley for four years. She is divorced and has a 26-year-old son.

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To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@theunion .com or call 477-4234.


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