Trackdown ManagementTrackdown Management’s City Manager Newsletter: Volume No. 16: Issue No. 14

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

Registration is now open for the 2023 Annual Conference and Expo of the League of California Cities in Sacramento, September 20-22, 2023 at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center. The 2023 conference will mark the 125-year milestone anniversary of the annual event.

Former Ventura County Sheriff William “Bill” Ayub is the new city manager for the City of Ventura. Bill will take the city manager post currently held by longtime public manager Don Penman, the interim city manager. The new city manager’s career began in 1985 as a police cadet in the City of Santa Paula. He also held various law enforcement positions in North Las Vegas, Nevada and the City of Port Hueneme before he joined the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in 1996. Bill earned a BS in psychology from the California State University, Northridge, an MS in emergency services administration from California State University, Long Beach and an AS from Ventura Community College.

Santa Maria City Manager Jason Stilwell submitted his resignation with plans to retire. He has served with the City for the past eight years, starting as deputy city manager in 2015. Jason was appointed city manager in 2017. Jason’s last day with Santa Barbara County’s largest City will be September 22. Prior to joining the Santa Maria staff among public management positions, Jason worked as the city administrator for the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea (2011-2014). He worked as assistant county executive officer for Santa Barbara County. He earned a BA from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; an MPA from San Jose State University; and a Ph.D. in public affairs from the University of Colorado, Denver.

San Marino City Manager John “Jack” F. Griffin was placed on administrative leave in early July. Jack served as city manager since June 2012. Assistant City Manager Michelle Bender is serving as acting city manager. Michelle joined the City staff in 2009 and she has been the assistant city manager since 2021. Before coming to San Marcos, Jack served as the city manager for Sebastopol from February 2009 and May 2012. He was the public works director for Chula Vista (2000-2008). Jack began his public service career working for the Moon Township in Pennsylvania. In 2016, Jack received a 30-year ICMA Services Award. Jack earned a BA from the Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

A legal action against former Hollister City Manager Brett Miller and the City has been dismissed with prejudice. Brett contends that the initial news coverage of the lawsuit against him for sexual harassment, though dismissed, has prevented him from finding a new job. Brett is a CPA and balked at carrying out some closed session directions of the City Council. Assistant City Manager David Mirrione serves as the interim city manager. David joined the Hollister City staff in August 2022. Previously he worked for the County of Merced as assistant county executive officer. David earned a BA from Humboldt State University.

“First Impressions Now Happen Online, Not in Person,” by Ryder Todd Smith, president of Tripepi Smith is featured on Page 44 of the July 2023 issue of Public Management published by ICMA. Ryder points out that online reputation management of local government leaders can be extremely important.

Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba has been dealing with the intricacies of working with federal and state partners while taking action to protect the public and see to the clean-up of a site with illegal hazardous materials, chemicals and medical waste. Timing public information is to be coordinated with federal and state officials. She earned a BA from California State University, Fullerton and an MPA from the University of Southern California (USC). After working as a local government recruiter (1998-2003), Nicole worked as the deputy city manager for the City of Fresno (2003-2007). After working as the executive director of human resources for the Fresno Unified School District (2007-2009), Nicole returned to the deputy city manager post in Fresno (2009-2001). Nicole became the Reedley city manager in August 2011.

Sacramento City Manager Howard Chang was the highest paid city manager in California in 2022, according to the State Controller’s Office. Howard earned compensation of $493,655 in 2022. The Controller’s Office show Howard’s total wages at $547,905 because he cashed out vacation and leave time pursuant to his employment agreement. Former Sacramento City Manager Walter James Slipe (March 13, 1933 – June 14, 2023) passed away on Wednesday, June 14 at his home in Granite Bay at the age of 90. Walter is Sacramento’s second longest serving city manager. During his 17-year tenure from 1976 to 1993, Sacramento became one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions. Walter is a native of New York and grew up in Long Island. He earned a BA in economics from Columbia University and an MA in city planning from the University of California, Berkeley. Walter was drafted and served in the U. S. Army from 1954 to 1956. Walter worked in Planning Department positions in Bakersfield, Santa Cruz and Fresno. On Walter’s 80th birthday, he went skydiving.

Alameda City Manager Jennifer Ott selected former San Jose Deputy Director of Parks Justin Long as the new Director of the Alameda Recreation and Parks Department (ARPD). Before joining the San Jose staff in January 2017, Justin worked as the Assistant Superintendent of Environmental Stewardship for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Justin earned a BA from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley was the installing officer for the incoming Los Angeles County Division of the League of California Cities President Beatriz “Bea” Dieringer. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert G. Luna is the featured speaker for the Thursday, August 3 ceremony at Hotel Maya in Long Beach. Elaine Jeng is the Rolling Hills city manager. Bea is a member of the Rolling Hills City Council.

Calexico City Manager Esperanza Colio Warren worked for the County of Imperial starting in April 2004. She was the community and economic development manager for the County from 2004 to August 2018 when she was promoted to deputy county executive officer. After more than 18-years with the county, Esperanza was hired to serve as the city manager for the City of Calexico in July 2022. She previously worked 7 years as an administrative manager and accountant with the Mexicali Tourism and Convention Bureau. After studying at the European University Viadrina in Germany, she earned a BA and MPA from San Diego State University. Esperanza is a native of Mexico and came to the United States in the late 1990s.

Anthony “Tony” H. O’Rourke was born in Austria and graduated from Kailua High School in Hawaii. Tony is a former South Lake Tahoe City Manager (2010-2012), who served as the Yakima, Washington City Manager (2012-2015). After leaving Yakima, Tony worked as city administrator for Canon City, Colorado, Panama City, Florida and Frisco, Colorado. Tony, 68, died June 20 in South Carolina after his daily walk on the beach with his beloved golden retriever. He was living in Fripp Island, South Carolina. His family held a farewell ceremony for Tony at the beach. Tony earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Masters in urban and regional planning from Cornell University.

Members of the California Contract Cities Association (CCCA) conducted a July 19, 2023 meeting at the King Harbor Yacht Club in Redondo Beach. The guest speaker was Justin Skarb, vice president of government & community affairs for Cal Water. Beverly Hills Council Member Dr. Julian Gold is the current CCCA president. Jeff Wood of the Lakewood City Council is the immediate past president. Marcel Rodarte is the CCCA executive director.

Modesto approved a $92.3 million wage and benefit increase for City workers over the next four years. Police officers will receive pay increases of 17% plus other enhancements over the four years. Civilian employees will receive 13%. The increases apply to 1,130 City employees, everyone but the firefighters, whose agreement has about a year left. City Manager Joe Lopez and department heads and Chief of Police Brandon Gillespie will receive increases.

Duarte Public Safety Manager Larry Breceda is the new director of public safety for the City. Larry has worked for the City of Duarte since August 2002. In March 2013, Larry began his tenure as the Duarte public safety manager. He earned a BA from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.


  • Veteran public manager Henry Henry Garcia is the new interim city manager for the City of Rialto.
  • San Carlos Human Resources Manager Janet Beaugh earned a Master’s degree in counseling from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.
  • Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward says that Senate Bill 94 by Senator Dave Cortese is one of the worst anti-victim soft-on-crime bills.
  • Amber Cruz is an economic development coordinator for the City of Ontario and she previously worked for the City of Montclair as an economic promotion coordinator & multimedia specialist.
  • Jim DellaLonga is the director of economic development for the City of Bellflower and previously worked for the City of Garden Grove and Signal Hill, La Habra and Cypress.
  • Former El Monte assistant city manager (2006-2010) and Foster City assistant city manager (2015-2020), Dante Hall is the city manager in the City of Hercules since July 2021.
  • Camarillo City Manager Greg Ramirez has earned a 7% salary increase taking his salary compensation to $302,000.
  • CPA Lupe Acero, the City of Port Hueneme director of finance, previously worked for the Santa Barbara County Probation Department and the McDonald’s Corporation (1999-2015) and earned a BS in accounting and finance from California State University, Northridge.
  • Paramount City Manager John Morena first joined the Paramount staff in January 1993 as a management analyst.
  • Kyle Koop is the city manager for the City of Rio Dell in Humboldt County.
  • Former Villa Park city manager (2009-2012) and deputy city manager in Rancho Cucamonga (2012-2022), Lori Sassoon, has served as the city manager in the City of Norco since August 2022.
  • Meghan Sullivan has worked as the recreation superintendent for the City of Fairfield since May 2016.
  • Lindsey Baker is the assistant city manager for the City of South Lake Tahoe and earned a BA and MPA from the University of Oklahoma.
  • Save the date for the February 7-9, 2024 meeting of the City Managers’ Department of the League of California Cities at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles.
  • The first city in California to incorporate was Sacramento in February 1850 and the most recent city to incorporate is the City of Jurupa Valley in July 2011.
  • Theresa Teney (Battaglia-Gutierrez) retired November 1, 2020, after working 16 years for the City of Bellflower and 20 years for the City of Lakewood.