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DMV Director Jean Shiomoto (@CA_DMV)
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DMV Director Jean Shiomoto to Step Down

Leaves the Department in an Uncertain State

By Sean Brown, December 17, 2018 12:53 pm

Following mounting pressure and many tribulations within the department, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has confirmed today that director, Jean Shiomoto will be stepping down from her position.

The DMV said, “Director Shiomoto announced to staff last month her intent to retire at the end of the year after 38 years in state service.”

Before serving nearly three decades at the department, Shiomoto was head of California’s Department of Developmental Services where she earned a respected and stout reputation. Her standing character eventually led Governor Jerry Brown to appoint her as the DMV’s full-time director in November of 2013.

Despite working twoards and then presiding in a top management position at the department for many years, her legacy at the DMV won’t necessarily be remembered for being efficient or effective.

To Californian’s, the image or thought of visiting the DMV will always be filled with horror stories regarding long lines, rude workers, unsanitary conditions, and much more. Furthermore, unfortunately for Shiomoto, it appears the situation has only gotten worse.

Under her guidance, the department struggled to implement new laws, keep up with its egregious wait times, and most significantly, it failed to properly register thousands of people to vote.

Last September, the DMV said they had sent the Secretary of State’s Office nearly 23,000 erroneous voter registrations as inaccurate customer information such as “voter preferences, vote-by-mail options, language and political party selections,” were all misinterpreted.

After the embarrassing mishap, Shiomoto said in a statement, “we are committed to getting this right and are working closely with the Secretary of State’s office to correct the errors that occurred.” She also sent out a letter to every person affected saying “this error was caused by DMV, was not your fault, and DMV sincerely apologizes for this inconvenience.”

Although he was “extremely disappointed and deeply frustrated” with the DMV’s troublesomeness, at the time, Secretary of State Alex Padilla seemed to show great patience and understanding for Shiomoto who was attempting to fix a program designed to service over 39 million people.

However, just last week Padilla referenced Shiomoto saying she had “lost my confidence and trust” and strongly urged Gov. Brown and Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom to “promptly appoint new leadership at the DMV.” Brown is not expected to make an appointment before his term is over, allowing Newsom to make the decision as he takes over the reins.

Assembly member Jim Patterson, one of the most outspoken critics of the department’s stagnation, released a statement today saying “this gives the incoming governor the opportunity of taking a very deep, hard look at the director position and team of people that the director puts around them.”

Shiomoto’s official last-day will be in January, while a state audit of the program is expected to wrap up in March.

Sean Brown

Before becoming a writer for the California Globe, Sean served as a Legislative Director in the New York City Council and is an NYU alumnus.
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