Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008 | Recently, the Chula Vista City Council voted unanimously to select Scott Tulloch as interim city manager. I think he is a man of honor and integrity. He has a wealth of administrative experience in municipal government and in the Army Corps of Engineers. He’s been the assistant city manager and has stepped into the job without missing a beat. He knows the issues, he knows the people, and he has what it takes to run this organization. I’m confident that we’re in good hands.
Three members of the City Council voted recently to rush the hiring of a permanent city manager. They want to do this in a matter of weeks, just before an election. Of those three, two, John McCann and Steve Castaneda, might not be here after the election. And since Deputy Mayor Jerry Rindone will retire, there could be three new members on the City Council. Forcing this issue isn’t fair to a new council, the public or employees. That this process is underway now is questionable. We’re moving so fast that there isn’t time to properly advertise the position in professional publications. Why the rush? There is rampant speculation that a choice has already been made by three council members. Many in the community believe this process is a sham.
Here’s why I believe this is the wrong direction.
Top notch, talented candidates from around the country are not likely to apply, especially when the composition of the City Council could change dramatically in just 34 days. It’s no secret that this is a sharply divided City Council.
The city is not using a search firm that specializes in attracting qualified candidates.
The political situation here is unstable. The city of Chula Vista employed three city managers over the past two years. The new council deserves to help make the right choice following a thoughtful selection process. We need to recruit a city manager who can deal with diminished reserves, budget shortfalls, complicated bay-front development, sluggish downtown redevelopment, and an economy imperiled by foreclosures and state takeaways. We are the second largest city in San Diego County and the fourteenth largest in the state.
Here’s the direction that I believe is in the best interest of Chula Vista.
We’ve started recruiting, but recruiting a city manager must be credible, methodical, and open to all qualified candidates. That takes time and effort. Personally, I’m confident that Tulloch can guide us through the next several months. The new City Council should be given the opportunity to evaluate the situation, and participate in both the process and the decision. This is the responsible thing to do.
We must show the people of this city and the region that Chula Vista is capable of following a rational process to select an outstanding, seasoned professional as city manager.
Cheryl Cox is mayor of Chula Vista