Cotati city manager resigns
Dianne Thompson to step down Dec. 1 after eight-plus years; search begins for successor
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By Dave Williams  August 14, 2014 09:38 am

Dianne Thompson has resigned as Cotati city manager and will leave her post Dec. 1 this year.

Thompson, appointed as city manager in 2007, had been the longest-tenured city manager in Sonoma County until she handed in her resignation on Friday, Aug. 8. She had served as assistant city manager in 2006.

“This has been in the works for some time,” Thompson said. “After 8-plus years in my current position, I am ready to move onto new opportunities. The timing is good for a leadership transition. We have a strong team so the city will be in good hands. I have enjoyed my time in Cotati, and it has been an honor to serve the citizens of Cotati.”

There had been speculation that Thompson had been forced to resign. A speaker during the public comment portion raised that notion. Evidence to that line of thinking stems from the fact the council held three closed sessions for performance evaluation on Thompson. Mayor John Dell’Osso, however, made it a point to squash that notion.

“No where in the documents do the two words forced resignation put together,” Dell’Osso said. “What we have here is a transitional agreement and that’s to work for a smooth transition of city managers.”

The Cotati City Council, at its Aug. 12 meeting, approved a transitional agreement with Thompson, which includes a payment for transitional assistance for six months following her departure. It is estimated she will be paid between $72,50-$85,250.

Now, Cotati will begin the search for a new city manager. Thompson’s reign as Cotati’s city manager lasted longer than most who hold city manager positions in Sonoma County. According to Councilman Mark Landman, city managers in the county usually stay in one place for about four years. The exception, he said, was a Santa Rosa city manager who lasted 25 years. The last 

SR city manager, Kathy Millison, resigned earlier this year after only 3 1/2 years on the job.

Thompson said she can look back on her time as Cotati city manager with pride. Two of her biggest achievements were getting two sales tax measures passed, which has been credited with preserving the Cotati Police Dept.

“With the success of Measure G and other measures the city has taken to establish long-term financial stability, the city is positioned to move forward with the improving economy,” Thompson said.

She also listed the team she’s put together at the city as one of her biggest achievements.

During her time, Thompson has hired a new police chief (Michael Parish), city engineer (Damien O’Bid), community development director (Vicki Parker) and deputy city clerk (Tami Thompson).

She also is credited for projects such as the acquisition of Faletti-Veronda Ranch, the new SMART train depot and plaza, renovation of the Cotati Room and the Demonstration Garden and initiating a new approach to development review.

“The city is now positioned to move forward with the improving economy,” Thompson said. “I will be working with the council over the next several months to assist in the transition.”

One disappointment in Thompson’s time as city manager was the inability to develop Cotati’s northern corridor. The city tried to make improvements to that part of the city by instituting roundabouts (traffic circles) that proved highly unpopular with the citizens. Voters in 2012 passed a measure to permanently ban roundabouts in Cotati.

Still, current Dell’Osso and the rest of the council had high praise for Thompson.

“Dianne has provided strong, stable leadership for over seven years, longer than any previous city manager,” Dell’Osso said. “She will be missed. Dianne leaves Cotati on solid footing with a promising future.”

 

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