RP city manager takes job in Augusta, Kan.
It was a surprising move: RP City Manager Gabe Gonzalez leaving city hall to become city manager of Augusta, Kan., beginning Nov. 14. His new post is in a city of nearly 10,000, slightly larger than Cotati.
In a brief interview Monday, Gonzalez said, “It’s all about family. My daughter, Alissa, and her husband live there and she’ll soon present me with my first grandchild.” Gonzalez’s father, who is 85, lives in Santa Cruz and he visits him often. “He has lots of friends down there and if he wants to later join us in Kansas, well, that’s his decision. He’ll be welcomed to do so.”
Gonzalez recently finished his third year as RP City Manager. He’s earned plaudits from the city council for his work in pulling Rohnert Park from the edge of bankruptcy when he started. The city had more than six million dollars in deficit finance and the economic picture wasn’t at all optimistic. But with the help of city employee unions, he slashed the deficit figures to a workable level, improved economic development and restored optimism to the city’s future.
Whoever takes his place will have an improved city to work with, compared to Gonzalez’s first months in the city manager’s office.
The spotlight falls on Assistant City Manager Darrin Jenkins. He could be named interim city manager, but this decision is up to the city council. Jenkins demurred any comment on this possibility.
Jenkins has already had experience as city manager, “but only for a few weeks.” This was back when City Manager Steve Donley opted to resign and remained with the U.S. Coast Guard, where he is a Lieutenant, and John Dunn was assistant city manager. Donley is now in San Diego with the USCG and Gonzalez was then hired.
RP has had six city managers since Pete Callinan was named the first one after serving briefly as a city councilman after the city was incorporated in 1957 and served the longest. Since then, Joe Netter, Carl Leivo, Dan Schwarz, Donley and Gonzalez have been appointed by the city council.
Gonzalez’s last day as city manager will be Nov. 7, two days after the Graton Resort and Casino opens on Golf Course Drive West.
Mayor Pam Stafford and the city council have the month of October to reach a decision on the next step to name a new city manager.