Trackdown ManagementTrackdown Management’s City Manager Newsletter: Volume No. 17: Issue No. 08

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:

Paul Buddenhagen is returning to the City of Berkeley to replace the resigning City Manager Dee Williams Ridley in July. Paul, who worked as a deputy city manager for Berkeley, left the city in January 2023 to become the city manager for the City of Emeryville. Deputy City Manager LaTanya Bellow is filling the position as interim city manager until Paul reports.

San Bernardino City Manager Charles A. Montoya was dismissed this month. He was the city manager for Avondale, Arizona prior to coming to San Bernardino. He was fired from his Avondale position in 2021 prior to being selected to serve in San Bernardino starting in 2023. He was fired after only working eight months for the City. Charles previously served as the Watsonville city manager (2015-2018). He earned a BA New Mexico State University and an MPA from the University of New Mexico.

Former San Bernardino Finance Director Barbara Whitehorn claims that she was dismissed by City Manager Charles Montoya after raising concerns about the expanded cost of a city hall renovation project.

Former Seaside City Manager Jaime Fontes, who was dismissed in March, requested a public hearing regarding the dismissal but failed to attend the scheduled hearing. Chief of Police Nick Borges has been serving as interim city manager. Jaime was appointed Seaside city manager in July 2022. Jaime previously served as city manager for Nogales, Arizona, and Santa Paula and Greenfield. He earned a BA from Arizona State University and a Juris Doctorate from Western State University College of Law.

Retired veteran Public Manager G. Michael Milhiser has accepted the interim city manager assignment in the City of Rialto following the resignation of City Manager David Carmany. Mike retired as the city manager of the cities of Ontario, Upland and Montclair. He also recently retired as the CAO of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. He is a board member for the Monte Vista Water District. Mike earned a BA from Chapman University and an MPA from Claremont University. He has served in a number of “interim” assignments including Fontana, and Adelanto. Rialto City Manager David Carmany resigned less than three months into a five-year employment agreement with the city. David said that he decided to “segue into retirement.” Assistant City Manager Tanya Williams served as acting city manager until Mike was appointed. David earned a BS and MPA from the University of Southern California (USC) where he played with the world-renowned USC Trojan Marching Band.

Rafferty Wooldridge is the interim city manager for the City of La Habra Heights. Rafferty worked as the City’s community development director and the assistant city manager. He succeeded Fabiola Huerta, who was appointed city manager in 2019 to succeed City Manager Jarad Hildenbrand, who left La Habra Heights to become the Stanton city manager. Retired La Mirada City Manager Tom Robinson has served as the interim assistant city manager for La Habra Heights since January. Tom previously worked as the interim city manager in 2016 following the departure of City Manager Shawna Clark.

Novato interim city manager Amy Cunningham has been hired to serve as the next Novato city manager. Amy began her public service career as a family support officer for the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office in 1996. In 1999, she began a nearly 17-year tenure with the City of Dublin. Amy left Dublin in 2015 while serving as the assistant to the city manager when she was hired as the Town of Moraga administrative services director. She moved to the Walnut Creek administrative services director in January 2018. After serving as the Half Moon Bay interim administrative services manager in 2019, Amy joined the Novato city staff as the finance director in February 2020. Amy earned a BA and MPA from California State University, East Bay.

Fowler City Manager Wilma Tucker, a former Fresno city manager, resigned, saying that she no longer feels safe doing her job. She warned that the City is posed to lose talented staff due to the toxicity in the City. She was hired in Fowler in February 2021. Wilma recommends that Assistant City Manager Thomas Gaffery be considered for the city manager position. Wilma earned a BS in health policy administration from Penn State University and an MBA from California State University, Fresno.

Stone James is the new city manager for the City of Twentynine Palms. Stone is the former director of economic development for the City of Cathedral City. He is also a guest lecturer at California State University, San Bernardino. He began his career in the private sector. Stone served as a planning commissioner in the City of Indio. He earned a BA in business administration from Gonzaga University, a Masters in real estate development and a Doctorate in policy, planning and development from the University of Southern California (USC).

Artesia City Manager Aldo Schindler has resigned to take the city manager position in the City of Tustin. Aldo has been a city government specialist for 28 years. He was a redevelopment project officer in Long Beach from 2000 to 2009 when he became the director of community development for the City of Bell Gardens. Aldo served as the director of community development in Whittier (2011-2014) and Downey (2014- 2022). He was the assistant city manager in Downey when he was hired in Moreno Valley as assistant city manager.

The City of Artesia appointed Aldo as city manager in November 2022. He earned a BA from San Diego State University and an MPA from California State University, Long Beach. Deputy City Manager Melissa Burke is the interim city manager.

Paulina Morales is the new city manager for the City of West Covina. She has been serving as Acting City Manager since May 2023. Paulina began her public service career as an intern with West Covina Community Development in March 2004. She moved up to a project manager position in 2007, and she left the city to become a development project coordinator with the City of Palo Alto in 2012. Paulina returned to West Covina in 2013, and she rose through the ranks to become assistant city manager in May 2021. She earned a BS in urban & regional planning from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Andrew Murray, who served as the interim public works director for Berkeley in January 2024, is the next city manager for Vallejo. He was the Pinole city manager for nearly 4 years from January 2020. Before that, he was the assistant city manager for Pleasant Hill (2013-2020) and assistant to the city administrator in Oakland (2012-2013). Andrew earned a BS and an MS from the University of California, Davis.

Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley has resigned. Her announcement indicates that she left “to pursue new opportunities.” From 2006 until 2010, Dee served as the assistant director of human resources for the County of San Mateo. From 2010 to 2015 she was a deputy city manager for the City of Modesto, and she joined the Berkeley city staff in January 2015 as deputy city manager. Dee was appointed city manager in 2016 after serving as interim for a time. She earned a BA from California State University, Sacramento and attended classes at Oklahoma City University.

After Senior U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of California, Roger Thomas Benitez of San Diego unlawfully ordered the shackling of a crying 13-year-old girl during her father’s sentencing hearing, his actions have been ruled to have the effect of undermining the public’s trust and confidence in the judiciary by a 12-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel has barred the 73-year-old Judge Benitez from accepting new criminal cases for three years. Judge Benitez is known for his rulings striking down several California gun control laws. Born in Havana, Cuba, he worked in private practice in Imperial County from 1978 to 1997. He was a Superior Court judge from 1997 to 2001. In 2001 he was appointed to serve as a United States magistrate judge, and in 2003 he was appointed to his current position by former President Geoge W. Bush.


  • Retired City Manager David Jinkens, currently a good government advocate, announced that he is a candidate for the South Lake Tahoe City Council.
  • Former San Bernardino Finance Director Barbara Whitehorn claims that she was dismissed by City Manager Charles Montoya after raising concerns about the expanded cost of a city hall renovation project.
  • Best Trackdown wishes for a swift and full recovery to former Los Angeles County Member of the Board of Supervisors, Don Knabe, who recently had a surgical cardiac care procedure.
  • Arron Brown, a veteran of the United States Marines, who previously worked for Rialto and Palm Springs, is the interim city manager for the City of Canyon Lake.
  • Governor Gavin Newsom is addressing a budget deficit at the same time the State is spending more on a reducing prison population, and as Blythe Interim City Manager Mallory Crecelius expresses her City’s dismay at the closing the Chuckawalla Valley State Prison as it is a major Blythe employer.
  • Finance Director Tim Kirby is serving as the interim city manager for the City of Sunnyvale effective June 29 with a salary of $383,259.
  • Alex Khojikian has worked as the city manager for the City of San Mateo since June 2023.
  • San Bruno City Manager Alex D. McIntyre worked nearly 4 years (March 1994-December 1997) with executive recruiter Norm Roberts & Associates.
  • David C. Roberts, Jr. has served as the city manager for the City of Carson since February 2022.
  • Mark H. Persico served as the assistant city manager in West Covina (2019-2021) after working for the Kosmont Companies as chief operating officer.
  • Raj Singh Badhesha, the chief assistant city attorney for the City of Fresno, has been appointed to replace retired Judge Jon N. Kapetan as a Superior Court judge in Fresno County.
  • West Hollywood Economic Development Director Laura Biery served as the Cal-ICMA president in 2010 and as the 2008- 2009 president of MMASC.
  • Chris Freeland, who earned a PhD from Claremont Graduate University and served as the 2006-2007 MMASC president, has been the Indian Wells city manager since May 2019. He previously worked as the city manager for the City of West Covina.
  • Former Bell Gardens City Manager (1980-1983) and Montebello Interim City Administrator (2011-2012) Larry Kosmont has been the Chair and CEO for Kosmont Companies for 38 years.
  • Ronald Kiedrowski served as city manager for Show Low, Arizona; La Quinta; and American Canyon prior to retiring as the assistant city manager for the City of San Pablo in 2003.
  • Joseph Tanner of JT Associates of Pleasant Hill is a retired city manager who earned a Master’s degree in federal, state and urban government from Golden Gate University.
  • Honey Mahogany is the new director of the Office of Transgender Initiatives (OTI) in the City and County of San Francisco.
  • Oceanside’s fire-damaged pier has been closed since April 25 and has re-opened about 80% on May 10 with the temporary fencing blocking off the damaged end of the pier structure.
  • Happy 93rd birthday to former San Francisco Giants legendary Center Fielder Willie Mays, “the Say Hey Kid,” who was born May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama near Birmingham.
  • California City Acting City Manager Latisha Lambert fired Chief of Police Jesse Hightower, who is a 20+ year veteran of the California City Police Department and has served as chief since November 2022.
  • Barry J. Johnson, who served in internships for San Diego, Imperial Beach and Loma Linda, served as the city manager in Hollister (1995- 1997), Imperial Beach (1997-2002) and Solana Beach (2002-2006).
  • Retired City Manager Chris Jeffers ran a 2:00:13 Half Marathon at the 2024 HOAG OC Marathon Running Festival on May 4, 2024, in Costa Mesa.
  • After nearly 14 years with the City of Hayward, the city gave City Manager Kelly McAdoo Morariu a wonderful send off as she prepares for new city manager adventures with the City of Santa Barbara.
  • Karen L. Davis, who earned a BA and MPA from the University of Kansas, began her career in Arizona and Texas and worked in Sunnyvale until she retired in 2007.
  • Vocabulary words: “kerfuffle” is a commotion, controversy or fuss, a disorderly outburst or tumult.