The California Strawberry Commission announces that Rick Tomlinson has accepted the newly created director of government affairs position. Effective July 1, 2005, Tomlinson fills a role the industry’s board of directors identified, with the approval of a strategic plan in January, as timely and of vital importance to the industry.

The director of government affairs will serve as an industry liaison for regulatory issues at local, state, national and international levels. Based in Sacramento, Tomlinson will be situated at the center of state legislation to effectively represent the interests of the industry and identify emerging laws and regulations in their early stages.

Rich Amirsehhi, chairman of the board, said this hiring represents an important change for the industry. "Consistent with board direction from the strategic plan, filling this new position with a person of Rick's background and experience represents a substantial opportunity for the strawberry industry. The board recognizes the significance of having a representative in Sacramento, keeping the industry apprised of upcoming legislation and involved in policy decisions. The creation of this position will help the industry to participate in the development of public policy that will affect the Strawberry community. This is a proactive and anticipatory role the industry is taking."

Tomlinson, a Monterey County native, earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. He has worked in a variety of governmental roles, including serving as chief of staff for a Monterey County supervisor, and as an appointee of the governor in the position of chief of the Office of Environmental Technology with Cal-EPA. Tomlinson's work with the state helped Cal-EPA to win the Harvard Innovations in Government award in 1996. Tomlinson was then selected by the Western Governors' Association as their Environmental Technology Advisor. In that role, he led the initiative to expand the acceptance and reliability of new environmental technology.

Tomlinson recently returned to Sacramento from Washington, D.C., where he worked for the Environmental Council of States, an association of each state's highest level environmental official. While in D.C., Tomlinson served as the program director of the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council, and worked on a variety of national environmental issues.

Rodger Wasson, president of the commission, says this appointment will help the commission identify current and emerging issues that could affect the viability of strawberry production, shipping, or processing. "I am pleased to fill this position with someone so knowledgeable and experienced about policy and government processes at the local, state, and national levels. Rick will be the industry’s voice in Sacramento and Washington D.C. I look forward to seeing the California strawberry industry become more involved in policies that impact it."