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Steven Falk

No decision after Council meeting with city manager candidates

on December 6, 2019

Richmond city councilmembers held a closed-door session on Saturday to continue assessing candidates for the position of City Manager — one of whom will eventually take over from Interim City Manager Steven Falk — but did not make a final decision.

“We have not made a final selection yet,” Mayor Tom Butt told Richmond Confidential by phone. 

With Falk’s mid-January contract expiration looming, the Richmond City Council is narrowing down the search for a permanent city manager. 

At a special meeting on Saturday, the council was expected to choose among final contenders to fill the soon-to-be-vacant city manager position, according to City Councilmember Jael Myrick in remarks to the Community Police Review Commission the night of December 4.

“We’re … still in the process of hiring a city manager, which has been narrowed down to two individuals,” Myrick said at the December 4 commission meeting. “There is going to be a special council meeting this Saturday and during that meeting we will be able to determine which of those two individuals to choose.” 

Myrick said the city plans to employ a special panel made up of residents and union leaders that will, along with the city council, interview the city manager candidate.

Richmond’s day-to-day administration depends on the appointment of a strong city manager.

The city operates on what is known as Council-Manager system of government, according the the city’s website. The council has seven members elected to alternating four-year terms. The Mayor is elected at large and is a member of the City Council. The Council appoints the City Manager to carry out the policies of the City Council and to manage the City’s departments and program activities. But the City Manager’s office has recently experienced a period of turnover and instability.

A 2018-2019 timeline of Richmond city manager incumbents.

At least four city managers have come and go in the last year. Carlos Martinez was terminated in July after less than a year amid accusations by union leaders of unfair labor practices, according to the East Bay Times. Martinez said at the time he disagreed with the council’s decision, but respected that it had a difficult decision to make.

Following Martinez’s termination, the City Council appointed Rochelle Polk as city manager, but the next morning Polk turned down the position. The council then named Henry Gardner, a former Oakland City Manager, as Richmond’s Acting City Manager.  Just weeks after Gardner’s selection, the council voted unanimously to tap Steven Falk, former Lafayette City Manager, as his replacement.

It is unclear when the final choice for the new City Manager will be announced.

This story has been updated to reflect that the council’s Saturday meeting to interview final candidates for the post was concluded without revealing a new city manager. Additional reporting by Aaron Leathley was contributed to this story.

Featured image: Interim City Manager Steven Falk. (Photo from www.ci.richmond.ca.us)

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