Trackdown ManagementTrackdown Management’s City Manager newsletter: Volume No. 15: Issue No. 17

For over 13 years, Jack Simpson’s Trackdown Management has published the City Manager Newsletter. Jack is a retired city manager and former Willdan executive. His newsletter content weaves together the personal side of the profession in California and helps keep the city manager community, especially retired city managers, connected with each other.

Picking Up the Pieces

Costa Mesa Fire Chief Dan Stefano has been serving as acting city manager since mid-July when City Manager Lori Ann Farrell underwent surgery due to a serious leg injury. Assistant City Manager Susan Price retired. Dan is continuing to fill in as Lori recovers.

After only four months as the city manager in California City, Doug Dunford has resigned. Doug was selected to serve in the city manager post in March. His first day on the job was May 2. Doug previously served as the city manager in Gustine (May 2017-April 2022). Doug served as the chief of police in Gustine from 2011 to 2017. Before that, he was the chief of police in Livingston (2010-2011) and Escalon (2002- 2010). He began his career in 1978 as a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County. Doug earned a BASc from Azusa Pacific University and an MA from Bellevue University.

Goleta City Manager Robert Nisbet was sworn in. Robert worked 19 years for the County of Santa Barbara before he was hired to serve as the city manager of Half Moon Bay, where he served for four years. He is also a former public works director for Carpinteria for 7 years. He replaces City Manager Michelle Green who retired. He earned a Master’s degree in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

With San Clemente City Manager Erik Sund leaving to be the Big Bear Lake city manager, veteran retired city manager Sean Joyce has been hired as interim city manager in San Clemente. Sean began his public management career in the City of Walnut in 1987. He was appointed assistant city administrator in the Sierra Madre in 1990 and became city administrator in 1993. Sean worked as the South Pasadena city manager from 1996 to 2004 when he was hired to serve as assistant city manager in Irvine. Sean took the Irvine city manager position in 2006 and retired in 2018. Since his retirement, he has served as interim city manager in South Pasadena (2020-2021), and Huntington Beach (2021-2022). Sean earned a BA and MPA from California State University, Fullerton.

Atascadero City Manager Rachelle Rickard wants a new chief of police. She wishes to terminate the current Chief of Police Bob Masterson who officially became the chief in January 2021. He took the position following the retirement of Chief Jerel Haley in October 2020. Bob is on leave until the City Council can hear the issues.

Chet Simmons has been the city manager in the City of Los Alamitos since February 2020. Chet is a former assistant city manager in the City of Westminster. He earned a BA in political science from Gonzaga University.

Corona City Manager Jacob Ellis served as a legal researcher for the Municipality of North Cowichan in British Columbia in 2006. After working in the Cowichan Valley Regional for a little more than 8-years Jacob moved to the U.S. to serve as the assistant to the town manager in Gilbert, Arizona in July 2015. He was appointed deputy town manager in July 2017. Jacob was selected to serve as the Corona city manager in November 2019. He earned a BA from Brigham Young University, an MPA from Cleveland State University and a Juris Doctorate from the Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University.

Former Pasadena mayor and council member and city manager in Azusa, Ventura and Santa Monica (2015-2020), Rick Cole, is the executive director of The Congress for the New Urbanism. Rick is also an adjunct professor at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and an assistant professor at Occidental College. Rick earned an AB from Occidental College and an MS in journalism from Columbia University.

Meghan Wishner, daughter of retired Walnut City Manager Rob Wishner, is a Management Aide in the Fountain Valley City Manager’s Office. Meghan was an intern with the City of Thousand Oaks in July 2017 and worked as an administrative assistant for Mt. San Antonio College starting in August 2018. She joined the economic development staff at the City of Ontario in May 2019. Meghan was hired in Fountain Valley starting in September 2021. Meghan earned a BA in communications from California State University, Channel Islands. She recently celebrated her birthday.

Pasadena City Hall has bid farewell to Interim City Manager Cynthia Kurtz as they welcome new City Manager Miguel Marquez. Cynthia retired as the Pasadena city manager (1998-2008) and since then served as the interim city manager in the City of Santa Ana. She was appointed interim city manager in Pasadena in November 2021. Cynthia earned a BA from Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s from the University of Iowa. In 2007 Cynthia received a 30- year ICMA Service Award. She served as the President of the City Managers’ Department of the League of California Cities in 2007.

Mike Chapman, a longtime member of the Kern County Fire Department has passed away. Mike was a captain for the KCFD. He earned a BA in public health at Fresno State University. Mike was a Bakersfield resident. Denise Pennell, wife of retired city manager Larry Pennell, received Joyce’s permission to announce Mike’s passing.

Vallejo Assistant to the City Manager Natalie Peterson is the new houselessness manager for the city. Natalie joined the Vallejo city staff in August 2020 as a community development analyst. In July 2021 Natalie moved to the City Manager’s Office as an administrative analyst. She took the assistant to the city manager position in April 2022 on an interim basis and was appointed to the post in August 2022. After graduating from Benicia High School, Natalie earned a BS from Saint Mary’s College of California. She is a member of the Municipal Management Association of Northern California (MMANC).

Joe Esquivel, affectionately known as “The Great Joe Esquivel”, former Lakewood mayor and city council member (1990-2011) and past president of the California Contract Cities Association (2001-2002), has passed away at the age of 89. He died on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. Joe was born in 1932 and grew up in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. He served in the U.S. Navy and was discharged in Long Beach. He and his wife Pat, a huge Boston Red Sox fan, settled into Lakewood in 1963. Joe worked for the American National Can Company in Carson for 35 years. He filled a leadership role in the United Steelworkers Local District 39.

Former City of La Mirada City Planner (1991-2005) Steven Mendoza is currently the assistant city manager in the City of Santa Ana. Steve worked in La Mirada with former city managers Gary Sloan and Andrea Miller. In 2005 Steve went to Desert Hot Springs to serve as assistant city manager and in October 2008 he became the development service director for the City of Los Alamitos. After nearly nine years, Steve left his Los Alamitos position in 2018 to serve as the executive director of the Santa Ana Community Development Agency. He was appointed assistant city manager in December 2020. Steve has been quoted, “ACM is the best job in city government.”

Firebaugh City Manager Ben Gallegos was interviewed by NPA’s Leila Fedel in August 2022 about preparing for mega storms. UCLA researchers predict that climate change is bringing mega storms as often as every 50 years. Ben spoke of funding that is needed to prepare public facilities for large storms. Scientists call it a mega flood or mega storm, when there are 30-days of continuous moderate to severe rain and snow covering wide swathes of land.

Oceanside City Manager Deanna Lorson resigned in March and Director of Development Services Jonathan Borrego was assigned the interim city manager responsibilities. He has now been appointed city manager. Jonathan came to the city in 2017. His department includes the Planning, Building, Engineering and Code Enforcement Divisions. He was promoted to deputy city manager by Deanna in 2019 in addition to his director responsibilities. Before working in Oceanside, Jonathan worked as a city planner for the City of Anaheim for nearly 30 years. He earned a BA and MPA from California State University, Long Beach.

City of Vernon Utilities Strategic Planning Coordinator Jessica Balandran previously was a member of team Tripepi Smith in 2012. She worked as a senior administrative analyst for the City of Cudahy between 2012 and 2016. Jessica joined the city staff in Vernon as an administrative analyst in October 2016. She was the utilities compliance analyst from October 2020 to September 2022 when she was elevated to her current position. Jessica took classes at Eastern Michigan University and earned a BA in political science and an MPA from St. Mary’s University.


Beverly Hills Director of Community Development Ryan Gohlich has been selected to serve as assistant city manager.

Timothea Tway has been promoted from city planner to the Beverly Hills director of community development.

J. Paul Paris has been the city manager in the City of Wasco since June 2014, and previously worked as the director of public works there from 2012 to 2014.

Jamie Earl, who went to work for the City of Claremont in August 2010 as a senior recreation leader, is currently the Claremont assistant city manager since November 2020.

Chino Assistant to the City Manager Jack Morgan earned a BA and MPA from California State University, Fullerton.

Ken Domer, who earned a BA and MPA from the University of Southern California (USC), after serving as the Fullerton city manager (2017-2021) has been the assistant city manager in the City of Laguna Beach since June 2021.

Sam and Sharon Olivito have moved to the Coachella Valley.

Tom DeSantis, who retired as the city manager in Temecula in December 2019, served as a president and member of the Board of Trustees of the Hemet Unified School District (November 2000-November 2004) while he served as a deputy executive officer for the County of San Bernardino (2001-2004).