San Mateo County’s newly-selected chief legal advisor John Nibbelin says he aims to help make his community a “fairer, safer and healthier place” in his new role.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously selected the longtime Pacifica resident as County Counsel, the County’s top legal post. Nibbelin will assume the role April 1, following the planned retirement of John Beiers after 27 years on the County’s legal team.
Nibbelin has served on the County’s legal team since 2001 and as chief deputy county counsel since 2011.
“San Mateo County has been on the leading edge of so many issues – financial privacy rights, health care for all, affordable housing,” he said. “I look forward to helping to make San Mateo County a better, fairer safer and healthier place. That motivates me pretty much every day.”
San Mateo County Board President Don Horsley said Nibbelin was chosen “for his extensive work with the Board on multiple complex legal challenges,” including legal needs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and his work with the chief equity officer on initiatives to further diversity, equity and inclusion.
In addition to his legal career, Nibbelin served as commissioned Army officer for nearly 28 years, including service in the military police and as a Judge Advocate General officer. His father was an Army chaplain, and “I grew up on military bases and it seemed natural for me to go into the service,” he said. He became intrigued by the legal field after interacting with Judge Advocate officers.
“John is a rare legal talent, a top-notch person, with natural leadership skills,” Beiers said. “The Board made a wonderful decision, and the people of San Mateo County are fortunate to have him in charge of the County Counsel’s office.”
As County Counsel, Nibbelin will oversee a budget of approximately $23 million and a staff of 49 employees, which includes 32 attorneys, as well as administrative and support staff. His staff assists on legal issues for the Board of Supervisors, all 20 County departments and all 24 County public school districts.
Nibbelin, a father of two boys and a girl, serves on Pacifica’s Planning Commission and is also active in a number of community groups and organizations, including Kairos Prison Ministries at San Quentin State Prison and the Pacifica Resource Center. He also enjoys running, volunteering in the community, and spending time with his family and is proficient in written and spoken Spanish.