Trackdown ManagementTrackdown Management’s City Manager Newsletter: Volume No. 16: Issue No. 15

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

Benicia Interim City Manager Mario Guiliani since March 2023 after serving as deputy city manager (February 2021-March 2023) is the new Benicia city manager. Mario joined the Benicia City staff as a recreation coordinator in February 1997. He became a management analyst in September 2006 and then served as economic development manager (2010-2021). Mario earned a BA and JD from the University of California, Davis. Mario served on the Board of Education for the Benicia Unified School District (December 2001-December 2005), and he is a Rotary International past president. He is not a member of ICMA.

Seimone Jurjis, the Newport Beach community development director since 2017, is the City’s new assistant city manager. He joins the City’s other Assistant City Manager Tara Finnigan. Seimone first joined the City staff in 2011. Previous Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs left the City for a job in the private sector in October 2021.

Lodi City Manager Steve Schwabauer will leave the City in October to take a general manager position with a water district. Steve was appointed city manager for the City of Lodi in May 2014 after working as the Lodi city attorney for 10 years. He earned a BA from the University of California, Davis, and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He practiced law with a private firm in Stockton and he came to Lodi in 1999 as deputy city attorney and he was named city attorney in 2004. Steve took the city manager position in 2014 when City Manager Rad Bartlam left to be the city manager in Chino Hills.

Meghan McKelvey has worked as the department and membership services manager for the League of California Cities since June 2014. She joined the League staff in February 2008 as a legislative assistant, and she was promoted to policy analyst in December 2010. Meghan has worked closely with the City Managers’ Department. She received an Outstanding Service Award from the California City Management Foundation (CCMF) in 2018. Meghan earned a BA from California State University, Bakersfield and an MPA from the University of Southern California (USC).

Former Downey Deputy City Manager (2020-2022) and Moreno Valley Assistant City Manager (2022), Aldo Schindler has served as the city manager for the City of Artesia since November 2022. Aldo began his public service career in 2000 as a redevelopment project officer for the City of Long Beach (2000-2009). He worked as the director of community development in Bell Gardens (2009-2011) and Whittier (2011-2014). Aldo earned a BA in political science and government from San Diego State University and an MPA from California State University, Long Beach.

Members of the South Tahoe Public Utilities District Board appointed Paul Hughes as the general manager of the District. Paul served the District as chief financial officer (CFO) for the past 15 years. Paul previously worked in finance with the cities of Troutdale and Brookings, Oregon, the Modoc Medical Center, and the California State Association of Counties.

We salute former city managers Bud and Denise Ovrom. These two veteran public management professionals served as the 2023 City Managers in Residence for USC Price, hosted by the USC City/County Management Fellowship and sponsored by HdL Companies. The program provides students of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy to hear real-life experiences and a rare learning opportunity.

Veteran El Segundo City Manager Darrell George is proud to talk about his City’s improvement in its credit issuer rating by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Global Ratings. The El Segundo rating has been raised from AA+ to AAA, the highest rating a municipality can be assigned. This upgraded rating is a major contributing factor in continuing the City’s reputation as a business-friendly City, according to Darrell.

Joe Perez, the community development director for the City of Jurupa Valley since November 2020, began his public service career in the City of La Habra Heights in August 1991. He served there as assistant city manager and city manager, leaving La Habra Heights in October 1994 to be the La Puente assistant city manager. Joe left La Puente in August 1995 to become the director of community services & recreation for the City of Paramount, where he worked for nearly 17 years. In September 2012, Joe became the community development director for the City of Bell and in April 2015 he took a similar position with the City of Lawndale. Joe left Lawndale in January 2016 and went to work as the South Gate community development director, leaving that post in 2020 to join the Jurupa Valley staff. Joe is a Lakewood High School graduate and earned a BA in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Salinas City Manager Steven S. Carrigan is a finalist for the San Bernardino city manager position. Steve was previously the city manager for the City of Merced starting in 2016. He was dismissed from Merced in 2020. Before that he worked as the Los Banos city manager and as the assistant city manager for the City of Sanger (December 2011-April 2013). Steve also worked for the Yuba Sutter Economic Development Corporation (2009); Stockton (2001-2009) and the City of Lathrop (2009-2011). Steve earned a BA from the University of Arizona.

Pinole City Manager Andrew J. Murray resigned from his position. He began his Pinole tenure in January 2020. He was the assistant city manager in Pleasant Hill (2013-2020) and Oakland assistant to the city administrator (2012-2013).

Rekha Nayar went to work for the City of Vallejo as deputy finance director in October 2016. She is a California CPA and she earned a BA in economics and statistics from Fergusson College and an MBA from Savitribai Phule Pune University. Rekha was appointed interim finance director in January 2019 and she became the director of finance in March 2019.


  • Trackdown congratulations to the El Segundo 12 and Under All-Star Little League team for winning the Little League World Series Championship.
  • John Berchtold, a former Blue Lake city manager (2010-2016) who received a 40-year ICMA Service Award in 2014, traveled from his Michigan home to work with the City of Jackson with their strategic planning.
  • Former South Gate Administrative Analyst (1994-2002); Orange County Transportation Authority Chief Assistant Clerk of the Board (2002-2004) and Hawaiian Gardens Assistant to the City Administrator; Rita Gallardo Good is a senior associate vice president for California State University, Sacramento.
  • Five Cities Fire Authority Fire Chief Steve Lieberman will retire in December 2023.
  • After working in Fullerton for a dozen years Nicole Bernard was hired to serve as the assistant city manager for the City of Tustin starting in January 2020.
  • It was reported August 18 that Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken calls for the resignation of any City Hall leader involved in planning a mock council meeting to polish their pitch for a development agreement for the City’s stadium to the Angels’ baseball organization.
  • City Manager Inge Elmes of the City of California City previously worked with the California City Chamber of Commerce.
  • Monterey Assistant City Manager Nat Rojanasathira, who worked in the Town of Danville for nearly 13 years, finds himself on the cover of the August 2023 issue of PM Magazine that includes his article on emergency preparedness.
  • James W. Buell served as the Stanton city manager starting in February 1986 after working as the city manager for Greenfield (1984-1986) and Watsonville (1978-1981).
  • Jeffrey McIllwain, formerly of Cerritos and now a San Diego resident, is on the faculty of San Diego State University’s Public Administration program.
  • Moorpark Assistant City Manager PJ Gagajena is a member of the Advisory Council for the Master of Public Policy and Administration for California Lutheran University.
  • Former Willdan Energy Solutions Vice President Katie Wilson, a former city manager, earned an MPA from California State University, Long Beach, and is serving as a vice president for TRC Companies, Inc.
  • Sandra L. Kerl, San Diego County Water Authority general manager since 2019, retired this month after 41 years of public service.
  • Bellflower Assistant Planner Eliana Muñoz since July 2017 worked as a planning intern in Norwalk and Pico Rivera before taking the youth employment program coordinator post in Hawaiian Gardens.