Trackdown ManagementTrackdown Management’s City Manager Newsletter: Volume No. 17: Issue No. 09

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:

Longtime Mission Viejo city staff member Elaine Lister is the new Mission Viejo city manager replacing retiring award-winning City Manager Dennis Wilberg. Elaine will take office starting on July 6. She has more than 20 years of experience on the Mission Viejo City staff. Elaine has served as the Mission Viejo director of community development since December 2013. She was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland and earned a BS from the University of Glasgow. She also earned a Master’s degree from San Diego State University.

Cupertino Assistant City Manager Matt Morley has been hired in the City of Saratoga to serve as city manager. After working in construction on the private side, Matt joined the San Jose city staff as a facility contract manager in December 1997. In March 2009 he became the deputy director of Public Works for fleet and facilities. In November 2013, Matt joined the Town of Los Gatos staff as the Parks and Public Works director. After more than 8 years in Los Gatos, Matt was hired to serve as the Public Works director in Cupertino. He became assistant city manager in January 2023. Matt was hired as the Saratoga city manager starting in June 2024. He earned a BA from the University of California, Davis and an MBA from the University of Phoenix, San Jose.

Calexico put City Manager Esperanza Colio Warren on immediate administrative leave on Friday, June 7. She was appointed city manager about two years ago, in July 2022. Fire Chief Juan Contreras will serve as the acting city manager until a replacement is found. The Calexico Police Officers Association has shown support for Esperanza, who previously worked with Imperial County for more than 18 years. She was the deputy county executive officer from August 2018 to July 22. Esperanza earned a BA and MPA from San Diego State University.

Dr. Cynthia Stringfield is the new firector for the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero. She succeeds Zoo Director Alan Baker, who retired in April 2024. She’s been working for Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park in Tampa, Florida as a senior vice president. Cynthia earned a BS in zoology and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of California, Davis.

It appears that Selma City Manager Fernando Santillan has weathered claims of harassment and intimidation. As a settlement over the allegations, Fernando is on track to receive a five-year employment agreement extension. After working in Avenal as the Community and Economic Development Director (2015-2021), Fernando joined the Selma city staff as community development director. He was promoted to deputy city manager in September 2021, and he was appointed city manager in December 2021. Fernando earned a BS from the California State University, Northridge and an MPA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Mission Viejo Director of Community Development Elaine Lister has been named Mission Viejo city manager starting on July 6, 2024. Elaine has worked in a variety of city staff positions for the city and has been the director of Community Development for the past 11 years. She takes the city manager position from retiring City Manager Dennis Wilberg, who has served as Mission Viejo city manager for more than 20 years. Elaine was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. She earned a BS from the University of Glasgow and an MS in geography and urban planning from San Diego State University.

Lodi’s new city manager is Scott R. Carney, who took the reins from Interim City Manager Andrew Keys. City Manager Steve Schwabauer resigned last September to become the executive director for the North San Joaquin Water District. Scott is the eighth city manager in Lodi history. Scott previously served as a deputy city manager for the City of Stockton, and most recently worked as the deputy director of administration for the California Department of Health Care Services. Scott earned a BA in sociology-organizational studies from the University of California, Davis and a Masters of Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley. He also earned a Doctorate in Education from the University of the Pacific, Benerd College.

After gaining experience with the International Hispanic Network, serving as a legal assistant, working in marketing and as a senior analyst for Tripepi Smith and as a board member for Rosie’s Garage, Jessica Balandran began her city government career as a senior administrative analyst for the City of Cudahy (2012-2016). Jessica joined the Vernon city staff as an administrative analyst in October 2016. She worked as a utilities compliance analyst and utilities strategic planning coordinator with Vernon Public Utilities. After nearly eight years with Vernon, Jessica joined the city staff in Anaheim as a senior administrative analyst with Anaheim Public Utilities. She earned a BA in political science and an MPA from St. Mary’s University. She also attended Eastern Michigan University.

Robert L. Wynn (May 25, 1931 – November 30, 2013) passed away from complications as a result of a fall at his home in Newport Beach. He was born in Preston, Idaho. Bob earned a BA and MPA from San Diego State University. After graduation, he became the city manager of the new City of Imperial Beach after serving as assistant to the city manager from May 1957 to February 1958. After serving as the Imperial Beach city manager until November 1968, Bob was appointed city manager for the City of Coronado. The San Diego-Coronado Bridge was built during his Coronado tenure. He left Coronado in August 1971 to be the city manager for the City of Newport Beach. Bob retired from Newport Beach on December 30, 1991. Bob served as the president of the Orange County City Manager Association in 1988-1989.

New City of Commerce City Manager Ernie Hernandez previously served as city manager in Hawaiian Gardens and Lynwood. Michelle Ramirez worked as the acting city manager until Ernie reported for duty in March. Before serving as the Hawaiian Gardens city manager for four years, Ernie was deputy city manager for the City of Norwalk. He also worked in the cities of Santa Ana, Long Beach, and South El Monte. Lynwood turned 100-years old during Ernie’s tenure as city manager. Ernie earned a BA from California State University, Dominguez Hills and an MPA from California State University, Long Beach.

Simi Valley Assistant City Manager Samantha Argabrite will step into the city manager position when City Manager Brian Gabler retires on June 30. Samantha came to work for Simi Valley in 2007 as a youth employment service coordinator. She became a senior management analyst in March 2011, and in April 2013, she was tapped to be the assistant to the city manager. Samantha was promoted to assistant city manager and public information officer (PIO) in January 2023. She earned a BA in communications and media studies and an MPA from California State University, Northridge. Samantha grew up in Simi Valley and is a Simi Valley High School graduate. Samantha is married to Dan Paranick, who has had an impressive career in county and city government.

With experience as a business manager for the City of Fremont (1999-2004) and executive positions with San José (2013-2016), Walnut Creek assistant city manager Teri P. Killgore left California to become the new economic development director for Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2024. Teri joined the Walnut Creek city staff in October 2018 as a consultant, and she was hired as assistant city manager in June 2019. She had served as assistant city manager for the City of Vallejo (May 2016-July 2019). Teri earned a BA in sociology from the University of Washington and an MPA from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School.

San Bernardino Deputy City Manager Rochelle Clayton is the acting city manager following the firing of City Manager Charles Montoya. Charles was terminated just eight months after his appointment. Rochelle served as assistant city manager for the City of Menifee prior to joining San Bernardino. Previous to working for Menifee, Rochelle served as deputy city manager and administrative services director for the City of Banning. She also worked for the West Valley Water District as chief financial officer in Rialto. She served with the High Desert Water District in Yucca Valley and she was the finance director for the City of La Habra Heights.

Bruce Moe, Manhattan Beach city manager, is retired after a 35-year tenure as a city employee. He has served as city manager for the past 6 years and worked as the finance director before that. Bruce originally joined the Manhattan Beach city staff in May 1989 as the general services supervisor. He was hired to serve as city manager in December 2017. Bruce earned a BA from California State University, Los Angeles. He also attended Pilgrim School. Kyla Brown is the president of the State Board of the California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS). She is the parks director and general manager for the Riverside County Regional Park and Open Space District. She worked for the City of Fontana for a little more than 16 years. She left Fontana in June 2010 as community services manager to take the assistant director position with the Riverside County District. She was appointed director in December 2019. Kyla earned a BA from California State University, San Bernardino and an MPA from California Baptist University.

Dr. Peter Pirnejad and Dr. Frank Benest co-authored an article in the May 2024 issue of PM Magazine entitled “Resetting Organizational Culture.” Peter is the city manager for the City of Los Altos Hills, and he is the Cal-ICMA president-elect. Frank is a retired veteran city manager who previously served as the city manager in Palo Alto, Brea, and Colton. He is the ICMA liaison for Next Generation Initiatives. Frank served as the president of the City Managers’ Department of the League of California Cities in 2001-2002. He also served as a regional vice president on the ICMA Executive Board (2003-2006). Frank received the ICMA Distinguished Service Award in 2011.

Rohnert Park Director of Community Services Cindy Bagley began her municipal government career in 2009 as a member of the staff for the Town of Windsor. She joined the Rohnert Park city staff in 2016 as community services manager. She was appointed director of Community Services in June 2021. Cindy earned an MA in school counseling from Concordia University, Chicago, where she played women’s soccer and was named All-Conference in women’s basketball. Cindy is the president-elect for the State Board of Directors of the California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS).


  • Elizabeth Goldman, Burbank’s library services director, will resign effective Friday, July 5, 2024.
  • Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin, CCMF president of the Board, recently was tapped with his son Nathan to throw out and catch the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium.
  • Craig Parker, the assistant general manager for Water Services at Anaheim Public Utilities, is a former director of engineering for the Coachella Valley Water District (2016-2019) in Palm Desert.
  • Santa Maria Interim City Manager Alex Posada, who stepped in following City Manager Jason Stilwell’s retirement, previously served as the director of Recreation and Parks.
  • Another local government professional is leaving California as San Jose Deputy City Manager Rob Lloyd becomes the interim chief technology officer and director of Information Technology for the City of Seattle, Washington.
  • Carlsbad City Manager Scott Chadwick has ordered that Police Chaplain JC Cooper and Fire Chaplain Denny Cooper refrain from concluding prayers and invocations with “in Jesus name” or face discipline.
  • Ken R. Irwin is the city manager for the City of Patterson (2014 to present) and started with the City in December 2012 as the director of Engineering, Building and Capital Projects.
  • Los Altos native Saskia Lagergren is the new chief of police for the City of Los Altos, working with City Manager Gabriel Engeland.
  • Bakersfield resident Daniel Padilla, who previously served as deputy public works director for Yuba County, is the interim city manager for the City of Farmersville, replacing former City Manager Jennifer Gomez, whose employment agreement was not renewed in April.
  • Mali LaGoe, who earned a BA from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and an MPA from California State University, Northridge, is the city ,anager for the City of Scotts Valley since January 2022.
  • ICMA Ethics Director Jessica Cowles is a former town manager for the Town of Berwyn Heights, Maryland (2014-2018).
  • Julia Gale of the Tripepi Smith professional team earned a BS in communication from State University of New York at Oneonta.
  • Zach Dahl, San Mateo deputy community development director since June 2021, who has been serving as the interim director, has been appointed director of the San Mateo Community Development Department.
  • Pamela Antil, Encinitas city manager, and Nat Rojanasathira, Monterey assistant city manager, represented the West Coast Region on the 2023-2024 ICMA Executive Board along with Mercer Island, Washington City Manager Jessi Bon.
  • Simi Valley City Manager Brian Gabler, who has worked for the City since 1986 and as city m`anager since 2020, is retiring at the end of June.
  • Chantal Cotton Gaines, a Palo Alto Deputy City Manager since October 2020, has served on the Cal-ICMA Ethics Committee and Technology Task Force since 2009.
  • Retired La Mirada City Manager Tom Robinson has been serving as the interim assistant city manager for the City of La Habra Heights.