After a long, arduous process, the East Palo Alto City Council appointed Magda Gonzalez as East Palo Alto’s new city manager. Her appointment came seven months after ML Gordon, the city’s previous city manager, announced his resignation.
The motion for Gonzalez’ appointment passed by a 4 to 1 vote at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, October 16. Council member Peter Evans cast the "no" vote against the appointment. Gonzalez will begin her duties with the city on October 22.
Gonzalez is the former deputy city manager for Redwood City. She has also served in an executive capacity in the cities of Belmont and San Bruno.
In commenting on Gonzalez’ appointment, Vice Mayor Ruben Abrica thanked the city staff and David Nieto, the president of the recruiting firm, The Nieto Group, which handled the city manager recruitment process.
He said that it had been a long process, that the council deliberated with very qualified candidates and that he was excited that the council had finally accepted someone.
In explaining why he would not vote for Gonzalez' appointment, Council member Evans said that while he had participated in the city manager selection process, he didn’t think that Gonzalez’ skill-set reflected the necessary municipal background to qualify her for the city manager position.
“The city will suffer behind this,” he said. “She will be temporary and in one to two years, the city will be looking for another city manager.” Evans said that the city’s choice reflected sloppy work and was unprofessional and the process would cost the city thousands of dollars.
Council member Carlos Romero turned to Evans and said, “That is your opinion. It is not my opinion.” Romero said that the city had gone through a comprehensive and competitive process through which it had selected the best candidate.
Gonzalez was one of 79 candidates who had applied for the job. On June 15 of this year, the East Palo Alto community was invited to meet Gonzalez and three other finalists that the city council selected during a ‘Meet the Candidates” night.
The finalists were then interviewed individually by the council, a community panel composed of 15 city residents selected by the council and by a peer panel of city department heads and a city manager panel composed of four city managers from Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Santa Clara.
On August 3, East Palo Alto officials formally announced that Gonzalez was selected from among the four finalists as the council’s choice to be the city’s new manager. But her appointment was subject to the successful negotiation of her employment contract.
During the council’s October 16 meeting, Mayor Laura Martinez stated that she and Vice Mayor Abrica negotiated Gonzalez’ contract, which calls for her to receive an annual compensation of $185.060 plus $5,000 in deferred compensation, along with other benefits.
Kathleen Kane, the city’s attorney received praise for updating the previous city manager’s contract to make things more current.
When ML Gordon resigned as East Palo Alto’s city manager, the city’s Chief of Police Ron Davis was appointed as the city’s interim city manager. Now, with Gonzalez’ appointment, Davis will resume his duties as police chief, replacing Frederico Rocha who has been serving as the acting police chief. Rocha will now resume his previous duties with the department.
The author of this article, Henrietta J. Burroughs, can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
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