Trackdown ManagementTrackdown Management’s City Manager Newsletter: Volume No. 17: Issue No. 04

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:

City Manager Aaron Palmer has agreed to a separation agreement with the City of Live Oak. Aaron came to Live Oak as interim city manager in April 2019, following Interim City Manager Joe Aguilar. Aaron began his public service career in October 1999 as an administrative analyst for the City of San Bernardino. He took a senior management analyst post in San Carlos in March 2001. Aaron went to the City of Big Bear Lake as Senior Administrative Analyst in Mach 2002. In October 2006 he became the Assistant City Manager in Patterson, and in June 2007 he started his tenure as Deputy City Manager in Adelanto. In March 2013, Aaron started as City Administrator in Highland City, Utah. From February 2016 to March 2019, Aaron served as the City Manager for the City of Canyon Lake. He earned a BS from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and an MA in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. San Luis Obispo City Manager Derek Johnson is the new Chief Executive Officer for the County of Marin. Derek served the City of San Luis Obispo for 12 years starting his city manager service in September 2017. He joined the city staff in November 2011 as the Community Development Director. He worked as the Community Development Director for the City of Capitola from July 2010 to November 2011. Prior to working for the County of Santa Barbara (January 2006- October 2010), Derek served as the General Manager for the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District. He earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Siew-Ching Yeong, Oakland Assistant Director of Public Works, is the new City of Pleasanton Director of Public Works. She is replacing Interim Director Norm Dorais. Siew-Ching joined the Oakland staff in September 2022 after working for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) for 10 months (2021- 2022). She worked for the City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) in various positions between 2012 and 2022. She earned a BS in construction engineering and MS in civil engineering from Iowa State University. Sylvester Fadal, who has worked as the Director of Personnel Services for the County of Sacramento since 2021, has been appointed Deputy County Executive for Administrative Services starting March 3. He has served as the Interim Director of General Services since October 2023. He is a former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). He taught as a Professor of Graduate Business for the University of Phoenix between November 1998 and December 2016. He earned a BA from Patten University and a master’s in organizational change from California State University, East Bay. He also earned a DBA from Argosy University. Moorpark’s Community Development Director, Carlene Saxton is the new Assistant City Manager for the City of Ventura.

Carlene joined the Moorpark city staff in September 2021. She previously worked in the City of Palmdale. Carlene started in the Palmdale Planning Department as a Senior Planner in August 2016 after working for a private sector firm starting in March 2011. She earned a BA from Valparaiso University and an MS in development and planning from the University College London (UCL). Carlene is the President of Women Leading Government. City of Galt City Manager Lorenzo Hines Jr. resigned with his final day being February 2. He came to work as the Galt City Manager at the end of August 2020. Prior to joining the Galt city staff he served as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Pacifica (November 2014-August 2020). Lorenzo worked as the Finance Director for the City of Lynwood between 2011 and 2014. He earned a BS in accounting from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and an MBA from the University of Washington. Lorenzo is an ICMA Credentialed Manager and a Washington State Certified Public Accountant. Galt’s Community Development Director Chris Erias is the new Interim City Manager. City of Bell City Manager Michael L. Antwine II previously worked as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Compton (October 2019-April 2022). Michael worked in Gardena from December 2001 until he left in 2007 as the Assistant to the City Manager. In 2007 he joined the Azusa city staff as a Senior Management Analyst, and he became the Deputy Director of Redevelopment for Compton in October 2008. In May 2015, Michael joined the La Habra city staff as Economic Development & Housing Manager. In 2016-2017 he worked as a Deputy Director for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and he was appointed Assistant City Manager in Novato in September 2017 before rejoining Compton in 2019, this time as Assistant City Manager. He was hired to serve as the City Manager for the City of Bell in April 2022, following Police Chief Carlos Islas’ service as Interim City Manager after veteran City Manager Paul Philips left the post. Michael earned a BA and MPA from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Lauren Lai is the new Director of Administrative Services and Chief Financial Officer for the City of Palo Alto effective March 11. Lauren has served as the Finance Director for the City of Milpitas. After working in auditor and finance positions in the private sector starting in 1996, Lauren served as the Finance Director for the City of Capitola from December 2004 until January 2009 when she became the Finance Director for the City of Marina. In August 2018 Lauren became the Finance Director in Monterey and in March 2021 she took the same post in Milpitas. She earned a BS from San Jose State University and an MPA from the University of Missouri, Columbia. Rachel Dimond is the City of Ventura Community Development Director effective February 2024. She served as Interim Director from November 2023 until she was named Director. Rachel started her public service career in May 2005 as a Planner for the Town of Vail, Colorado. She joined the Santa Monica city staff as Associate Planner in April 2013, and took a Senior Planner position with the City of West Hollywood in May 2015. In June 2022, Rachel became the Assistant City Manager for the City of Compton before joining Ventura in May 2023. Rachel earned a BA from The George Washington University and a Master’s in urban planning from New York University. Former Lynwood City Manager Jose Ometeotl currently works as a Managing Director for Classic Lake, LLC. Classic Lake is a community and economic development, investment, and advisory firm. Jose worked for Willdan from June 2012 to May 2017, before he joined the City of Lynwood staff as Finance Director. He was appointed city manager starting in May 2018. In addition to working in the private sector, Jose was an Economic Development Consultant for the City of Huntington Beach in 2006-2008. He earned a BS from Cornell University and a Master’s of planning and local economic development from the University of Southern California (USC).

Mission Viejo City Manager Dennis Wilberg is the recipient of the 2024 Wes McClure Award for his dedication to mentoring others. Dennis is the longest-tenures city manager among Orange County cities. He was the recipient of the 2019 City Manager of the Year Award presented by the Association of California Cities, Orange County. Dennis joined the City of Mission Viejo city staff in 1989. He worked as the Public Works Director and Assistant City Manager prior to being selected to serve as City Manager in October 2003 following the tenure of Mission Viejo City Manager Dan Joseph. Dennis earned a BS from California Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Watsonville Assistant City Manager Tamara Vides is the recipient of the 2024 John H. Nail Memorial Award. She joined the Watsonville city staff team about 25-years ago. She served as Interim City Manager starting in 2021 when former City Manager Matt Huffaker left to take the Santa Cruz city manager position. Tamara became Deputy City Manager in 2018 and then elevated to Assistant City Manager in October 2020. Tamara is fluent in Spanish and English. Tamara earned an MA in recreation administration from San Jose State University.


  • Former Fernley, Nevada City Manager, Patrick Marsh is the sixth city manager in a little more than a year for the City of California City.
  • Former Oroville City Administrator (2010-2012) and former City Manager for Compton (2012-2014) and Grand Terrace (2015-2021), G. Harold Duffey has worked as the Oakland Director of Public Works since July 2021.
  • Former Moorpark Community Development Director Karen Vaughn retired in 2021 at the age of 50 to move to Florida to be close to family.
  • Maggie Ochoa, who worked for the Lemoore police department for 25-years was appointed Chief of Police for the City of Corcoran starting in February 2024.
  • Bryan Whitemyer has served as the Oakdale City Manager since February 2013 after he served as the City Manager for the City of Hughson (2010-2013).
  • Susan Cline is the Santa Monica Assistant City Manager; and the City of Santa Monica’s city staffing salary levels sets the Assistant City Manager salary at $348,938 annually for Step 5.
  • Jocelyn Torres, Management Analyst for the City of Monrovia, previously worked as an Administrative Assistant for the City of San Marino.
  • Former San Marino City Manager Marcella Marlowe is the Interim City Manager for the City of Hidden Hills.
  • James R. ”Jim” Lewis, Atascadero City Manager since July 2023, earned an MPA from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a BS in public policy and management from the University of Southern California (USC).
  • In Vista, California, former Community Development Director John Conley is the City Manager successor to former City Manager Patrick Johnson.
  • Weed City Manager Tim Rundel previously served as City Manager in Claremore, Oklahoma (2010), Auburn (2014-2016), and Durant, Oklahoma (2016-2019) becoming the Weed City Manager in March 2020.
  • Dominic H. Choi was appointed by the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners as the ne Interim Chief of Police for the Los Angeles Police Department.
  • After working as Community Development Director in Rosemead for more than 11 years starting in June 2007, and Lynwood (2018-2021), Michelle Ramirez was appointed Community Development Director for the City of Torrance in September 2021.
  • La Verne community Development Director Eric Scherer has served the City of La Verne for more than 25-years.
  • Lauren Vasquez, Monrovia Assistant City Manager, is the recipient of the Award for the Advancement of Diverse Communities presented by the City Managers’ Department of the League of California Cities.
  • The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (CJPIA) has named Alex Mellor as its new Risk Services Director.
  • Alison King is the new Long Beach Director of Health and Human Services.
  • Andrea E. Russell is the new Human Resources and Risk Management Director for the City of San Bernardino.