Trackdown Management

Trackdown Management’s City Manager Newsletter: Volume No. 17: Issue No. 05

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

Watsonville City Manager René Mendez is the next city manager for the City of Salinas. René worked for Solano County starting in July 1992 and in 1997 he was appointed county administrative officer for the County of Inyo. In 2005, René became the city manager for the City of Gonzales. He was hired to serve as the Watsonville City Manager in July 2022. Rene earned a BA in economics from California State University, Stanislaus, and an MA in public policy from Duke University. René has been active with the Gonzales Little League, and he served as the Girl’s Tennis Team coach at Gonzales High School.

Clovis City Manager John Holt and Finance Director Jay Schengel report that expenses are outpacing revenues and could lead to future problems. Clovis sales tax revenue has declined for the past two years resulting in a $2 million shortfall. Though property taxes will be up by about $0.9 million, other fees and charges will be slightly down. Expenses will outpace revenues for water, sewer and community sanitation. High inflation rates exacerbate the problem. CalPERS costs are expected to double in the next five years, going from $10 million to $20 million.

It appears that the California City search for a city manager continues. Though it was reported that Patrick Marsh was selected, Patrick and the city did not come to an employment agreement understanding. The city’s Human Resources Director Latisha Lamberth is the acting city manager. Latisha is the 6th acting city manager since City Manager Doug Dunford resigned in September 2022.

Newport Beach, where Grace K. Leung serves as city manager and Leilani Brown is city clerk, has decided to discontinue the city’s membership in the League of California Cities on a 5-2 vote of the City Council. The annual fee for Newport Beach to maintain membership with the League of California Cities is $24,800.

Emeryville’s recent council meeting was disrupted by “Zoombombers” using racist, antisemitic and homophobic language. City Manager Paul Buddenhagen was warned to monitor speaker’s signup names as fake names with double meanings have been used to contribute to disrupting the meetings. Incidents in other Bay Area cities have also been reported, including Antioch, El Cerrito, Fremont, Sacramento, Redwood City and San Mateo. Former City Manager Rick Cole will be returning as a member of the Pasadena City Council. Rick is a former Mayor and Council Member in Pasadena (1983-1995), after which he served as city manager in the cities of Azusa (1998-2004), Ventura (2004-2012) and Santa Monica (2015-2020). Rick’s new city council term begins in March 2024. He continues to serve as an Assistant Professor for Occidental College and an Adjunct Professor for Pepperdine University.

Robert Perrault, 72, is the interim city manager for the City of Pacific Grove following the resignation of City Manager Ben Harvey in 2023. Robert took over from Administrative Services Director Tori Hannah, who served as city manager pro tem. Ben came to Pacific Grove as the interim city manager in January 2016, replacing former City Manager Thomas Frutchey. Ben became city manager in April 2016. He is currently the city manager for Ojai. Bob retired as the Grover Beach City Manager in 2016, and previously served as the city manager in Colfax and Cloverdale. He worked as the interim city administrator for Guadalupe in 2019. Robert also served as interim city manager for Greenfield and Willits. Executive recruitment firm Bob Murray & Associates is retained by the city to help find a new city manager for Pacific Grove.

Clayton City Manager Bret Prebula resigned to be able to accept the city manager position in the City of Suisun City. Bret has been the Clayton City Manager for about a year. He previously worked as the assistant city manager and finance director for the City of Benicia. Bret began his public service with the County of Napa. In September 2008 he became a Staff Services Analyst and began working his way up in the county organization. Bret left Napa County in October 2019 when he was the assistant treasurer and tax collector to take the Finance Director position for the City of Napa. He joined the Benicia staff as finance director in June 2021. Bret earned a BA and MBA from the University of Phoenix.

Former Fremont City Manager Mark Danaj pleaded guilty to fraud on charges brought by the Alameda County prosecutors. He used a City credit card to pay for personal expenses and he owed the City thousands of dollars when he accepted a $316,617 severance package after he was fired in 2021. It is expected that Mark will be sentenced to 90 days in the Santa Rita Jail. Mark served as the Fremont City Manager from 2018 until 2021. He was the city manager for the City of Manhattan Beach from July 2014 to January 2018. Mark received a 25 Year ICMA Service Award in 2020.

Redwood City’s new assistant city manager is Patrick Heisinger, as announced by City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz. Pat began his new job on March 11. He served as the Housing and Redevelopment Programs Manager in Santa Cruz County starting in December 2006. In June 2011 he became the housing programs manager for the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County. Pat worked for the San José Housing Department as a division manager starting in June 2012, and he joined the City of East Palo Alto city staff as the Housing Manager in May 2018. He worked his way up in that organization as the community and economic development Director in April 2019, assistant city manager in September 2019 and interim city manager in April 2022. Pat moved to the Redwood City staff in March 2023 as interim assistant city manager. He earned a BA and MA from the University of Redlands and an MA in public administration from San José State University. Pat has a State of California Department of Real Estate Real Estate Broker License.


  • Palm Desert Director of Finance Veronica Chavez earned a BS and an MA from the University of Redlands.
  • Kosmont Companies are working with the Mountain House Community Services District in San Joaquin County that has voted to approve cityhood…City of Mountain House.
  • Former Susanville City Administrator Rob Hill, a California State University, Chico alumnus, is retiring after 15 years as the city manager for Centralia, Washington.
  • Seal Beach City Manager Jill Ingram apparently has not been formally evaluated since August 2021, though her employment agreement calls for annual evaluations each March.
  • After working with the City of Bellflower, Leilani Brown has been with the City of Newport Beach since 1997 and she was appointed city clerk in 2008.
  • Beth Goldberg has joined the Redwood City staff from State of Washington local governments as Finance Director for City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz.
  • Riverside City Manager Mike Futrell announced the appointment of Daniel E. Garcia as the Interim General Manager of Riverside Public Utilities.
  • San José City Manager Jennifer Maguire appointed Mukesh “Mookie” Patel to serve as the new San José Airport Director.
  • Joaquin Siques is the new Director of the Pasadena Department of Transportation working with City Manager Miguel Márquez.
  • Corona Assistant City Manager Brett Channing, who has served on the ILG Board since 2013, is the 2024-2025 Board Chair for the Institute for Local Government (ILG).
  • Since August 2019, the El Monte City Manager has been Alma Karina Martinez, and she worked as the Lynwood City Manager from November 2016 until May 2018.
  • Tyler Salcido has been the City Manager for the City of Brawley since he started as Interim City Manager and Finance Director in September 2020.
  • Abraham Han is the new Senior Risk Manager for the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (CJPIA).
  • Former La Verne, Roseville and Merced City Manager Allan R. Schell, who was an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University and taught government classes at Castle Air Force Base for several years, passed away at the age of 89 in August 2019.
  • Retired City Manager Lee McDougal was successfully re-elected to the Chaffey College Governing Board.
  • Shannon Esenwein is the Finance Director for the City of Ceres and previously worked for the cities of Hughson and Arroyo Grande, and the counties of San Joaquin and Stanislaus.
  • California State University, Sacramento alumnus GeorgeAnne Meggers-Smith joined the Vacaville city staff in March 2007 as a Parks and Recreation Management Analyst and currently serves as the Vacaville Assistant City Manager.
  • David Van Kirk worked for the City of Vacaville for 24 years and retired after working his last 6 years as City Manager at the end of 2008.
  • Tony Williams, General Manager of the North Marin Water District, is intent on maintaining an edge of weather science as local reservoirs reach capacity.
  • Yolanda Bundy, Malibu Environmental Sustainability Director, is the recipient of the Supervisor of the Year award for the Los Angels Basin Section (LABS) of the California Water environment Association (CWEA).
  • Ventura’s new Public Works Director is Charles “Charlie” Ebeling effective April 1.