The glassy-winged sharpshooter has been a recurring theme in Marty Settevendemie’s county career.
In 2000, Settevendemie was hired as temporary inspector in the county’s effort to battle the serious new vineyard pest. Now, 11 years later, he is the newly appointed head of the county’s Agriculture Department, and his office is in the midst of an extensive effort in San Luis Obispo to eradicate that very pest.
The sharpshooter is just one of a long list of invasive and potentially damaging pests that county farm officials must monitor. In fact, 20 inspectors work part time for the county in its pest eradication efforts.
“We have a huge diversity of crops in this county,” Settevendemie said. “There is a constant potential for new pests.”
On Tuesday, Settevendemie, 46, was sworn in as the county’s agricultural commissioner and sealer of weights and measures, replacing Bob Lilley, who retired. In addition to the 20 part-time pest inspectors, he has a full-time staff of 43 and a budget of $5.2 million.
Not surprisingly, an office with a title that long encompasses a wide variety of activities — everything from monitoring the safe use of pesticides to verifying that gasoline pumps are correctly recording the amount of fuel they dispense.
That range of responsibilities meant that Settevendemie had to obtain 12 different licenses and pass 15 different oral and written examinations to be qualified for his new position. It took him nine years to check off all of those boxes.
“I wanted to make sure that my career opportunities were not limited by my qualifications,” he said.
After eight months as a temporary employee, Settevendemie took a full-time job with the county later in 2000. In 2004, he became a deputy agricultural commissioner in the pest management division.
Now, Settevendemie’s efforts are focused on meeting as many members of the county’s agricultural community as possible. His goal is to keep the department operating as efficiently as possible in the face of limited budgets.
The department has lost 41⁄2 employees in recent years due to budget cuts. It is funded by a combination of general fund money, state allocations to operate specific programs and fees.
When not working, Settevendemie is an avid freshwater fisherman, particularly bass fishing. Santa Margarita is his favorite lake. He lives with his wife, Susan, in Los Osos.
Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.