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Longtime County CIO Steps Down

The Northern California technology leader had been chief information officer for more than eight years, and the county will mount a search for his permanent replacement.

Jon Walton has stepped down from his position as San Mateo County chief information officer and director of the Information Services Department (ISD), a county official confirmed to Government Technology* magazine.
The 20-plus-year C-level executive’s final day with the county was May 18, according to county Chief Communications Officer Michelle Durand. He had been CIO since January 2013, and was previously CIO at the consolidated city-county of San Francisco from June 2007-January 2013. In January 2012, during Walton’s time there, San Francisco received a 2012 CIO 100 Award for its work developing mobile apps.

Walton’s technology career spans 24 years and began in 1997 with a seven-year term as deputy CIO for San Jose, Silicon Valley’s most populous city. After San Jose, he headed to the private sector for nearly three years as a senior manager at Unisys. His time at San Mateo County, he told Techwire in March, impressed upon him “how important communications and partnerships are to make things better for the community.”

“Most people, when they live in a community, they don’t really think about exactly where all the invisible political boundaries are. And so, we really approach things in San Mateo County in a spirit of partnership with all of our municipal and school district partners,” Walton said. His next move is unclear.

Digital equity is a “big theme” at San Mateo, Walton said, highlighting the county’s ongoing deployment of public Wi-Fi – an effort redoubled during the pandemic. The county is also rethinking its telecommunications infrastructure and strategy, as its microwave system and more than 30 radio sites need replacement, Walton said in March, noting that work was underway on an RFP.

Asked then what project or achievement he was most proud of, Walton cited the county’s work closing the digital divide and its “operational excellence” in a flexible, adaptable IT modernization during his tenure.

“We literally, I think, have changed all but one application in the county in seven years. Staff have really been good about engaging about change management and process and adapting to new technology,” he said.

Michael Wentworth, formerly assistant CIO and a longtime staffer, will take over as ISD’s interim director while the county mounts a recruitment for Walton’s permanent replacement. San Mateo County’s next CIO will join an organization of about 8,000, lead around 150 IT staff and be in charge of a budget of around $60 million operationally.

*This story first appeared in Government Technology, Techwire's sister publication.