Now Hiring: Half of the City Manager Chairs in Ventura County Cities are Vacant
It appears 2012 has been a year of change for cities in Ventura County because half of the County’s 10 cities happen to be on the hunt for new City Managers at the same time due to a spate of recent departures, though not all on the same terms. Most recent is the resignation of Port Hueneme City Manager Dave Norman, who left his position at the request of the city council. His contract was renewed in February through 2015 but the Ventura Star reports that “The council has been tight-lipped for weeks while talked swirled in the community about a rift between Norman and Police Chief Kathleen Sheehan.” Reportedly the city has been reviewing his performance evaluation in a series of closed-session meetings for quite some time. In a statement issued by the city, Norman commented, “I've had a good, productive run here in Port Hueneme, but I am looking forward to seeking new professional opportunities."
And in the city of Ventura, Rick Cole announced his departure in late August and his resignation was effective September 15th. Cole had been Ventura’s City Manager since 2004 and he commented on his departure at his personal blog, which you can view here. He also shared his thoughts on the future of Ventura here.
Fillmore has also seen a departure, as last month City Manager Yvonne Quiring announced she was parting ways with the city effective October 1st. She had served as City Manager for three years and in the past overcame a letter of no confidence signed by a majority of city employees. Quiring reportedly left for another public sector job and her resignation came shortly after the death of her father. The city’s finance director is also leaving, which led Councilman Steve Conaway to comment: “Our staff in City Hall is decimated. There's no stability, and then (for Quiring) to exit stage right like that leaves me scratching my head."
Then there’s Simi Valley. It’s longtime City Manager Mike Sedell retired over the summer after serving the city for over 17 years. A permanent replacement has yet to be found so in the meantime a former assistant city manager is filling in the role.
Finally, there’s Oxnard. City Manager Ed Sotelo was put on paid leave in January. Back in 2010, city documents and records were confiscated as part of an extensive probe from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and a search warrant was obtained to look through the home of Sotelo. The investigation primarily focused on misappropriation of public money, possible conflicts of interest and the handling of contracts involving public works and other city projects. Sotelo’s salary made headlines when it was revealed he would receive an automatic raise in March, thereby increasing his total compensation package to $411,850 a year.
The VC Reporter notes: “Sotelo has been on paid leave for nearly nine months — his contract will expire in February 2013 — but only this week has the Council spoken about searching for a new city manager. […]Assistant City Manager Karen Burnham was recently given the title of interim city manager and a $20,000 annual raise. She will be able to apply for the full-time city manager position. So far, hiring a new city manager before Sotelo’s contract ends hasn’t been a topic of discussion.”
These five cities are clearly at a crossroads as they search for new leadership and the picks of each city will play a big part in shaping the direction of each local government.