Maria Dadian, City Manager of Artesia – a small community located in southeast Los Angeles County – is continuously on the go.

In nine years in her post, Dadian has had her share of challenges, including working for five bosses and struggling with the city’s finances.

“We have always struggled to make it financially as a city. We budget and operate conservatively,” she explains. “We have never relied on the funds of the State, we have scrimped and saved. Then, through the State’s irresponsible manner of managing money we become their ‘loan institution?’ As the front line to our residents how do we serve them?”

She adds that it’s challenging to “simply hold on to the dollars that we have generated through investments in improving our infrastructure and working with those who select to do business and reside in our city.”

But Dadian has dealt with these problems head-on and works along with the City Council, addressing the issues through goal setting, objectives and pursuing the goals.

“We have worked diligently to seek out financial resources and partnerships to create the improvements to stimulate our economic opportunities,” she explains.

Working Together for Success

Dadian says that cities should work together to accomplish more than they normally can. For example, she says large cities tend to look down on smaller cities projecting that their issues are not the same. However, in reality, small cities have the same goals, objectives and challenges, she says.

“Large cities operate with the impression that smaller populated cities that may contract services (police, fire, etc.) are not subject to the same fiscal challenges to serve their communities.  Smaller communities have a difficult time rallying to achieve all what is necessary to ensure that the public (residents and business) in the jurisdiction is served.  Funding and advocacy is lost or limited to small jurisdictions because it is the numbers (population) that gets the attention,” she says. 

A good example is that cities that make up local government are being victimized by the lack of control over State funding.  She says that cities need and do ban together to address this issue but could apply the same partnership when it comes to other issues that threaten the livelihood of any city.    

So, how can city managers and other elected officials make a difference? She has some ideas such as transparency and encouraging problem solving.

“We must be in a partnership in order to be a service to our communities,” she says.

As the city manager of a very diversified city, Dadian is proud of her ability to do more with less.

“For example, we have been able to transform our community’s infrastructure by implementing street repairs, alley-service road improvements, and establishing a Historical District …” she says.

In the end, Dadian says she is interested in empowering communities and by that she simply means “including them in the processes so that they have ownership of their community.”

“Artesia is a mix of cultures that sometimes clash with what is regulated,” she explains. “Working in a culturally diverse community provides the opportunity to learn about people and customs. We take the position in Artesia that you do not have to travel the world to see the way people live in other countries. You are in Artesia and the experience is terrific.”

The writer, Debbie L. Sklar is a 20-plus year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. She is a regular contributor to and may be reached via e-mail at

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