CITY HALL — City Manager Rod Gould will retire early next year.
Gould made the announcement in a letter addressed to City Council Friday afternoon.
“I have thought deeply about this decision and began discussing it with my family and my two closest colleagues early this year,” he said in the letter. “I’ve concluded that after 29 years of city management in five cities, it’s time to reset my work-life balance. The next phase of my career will involve more teaching, consulting, volunteering, and service to my profession and less night, weekend, holiday and vacation work.”
Gould took City Hall’s top job in late 2009, a year after the economy crashed. He will step down at the end of January.
“Santa Monica has a reputation as being one of the more challenging cities to manage and administer in California,” Gould said. “That is part of what attracted me to apply for this position. I seek challenges. There have been many and grappling with them has made my job in Santa Monica both exceptionally fulfilling and all-consuming. Now it is time to recalibrate my work-life.”
By setting the January 2015 date, he said, council will have plenty of time to fill the position.
Several elected officials made statements thanking Gould for his service. Councilmember Kevin McKeown and Mayor Pam O’Connor praised Gould’s navigation of a bad economy.
“Rod Gould brought great strengths to a difficult job,” McKeown said in an e-mail to the Daily Press. “He took the reins in the depth of the Great Recession, and the City’s continued success speaks to his skills as well as to the strong foundation laid by a succession of progressive City Councils.”
O’Connor lauded his initiation of a voter-approved fee that supports the public schools.
“Rod led the City with a steady hand during one of the worst economic downturns in our country’s history,” she said. “Santa Monica emerged stronger and more resilient under his guidance. For five years he has focused his considerable talent and boundless energy working for the City Council and community to deliver extraordinary results for our City. He built a strong department head team who serve us with distinction every day.”
Former mayor Assemblymember Richard Bloom praised Gould on Twitter.
“#santamonica’s extraordinary City Manager, Rod Gould, retiring after 5 stellar years in SM and 30 years serving local communities,” he said.”
Gould thanked Bloom and others in his letter.
“You have my sincere thanks for your confidence and support during my tenure as city manager,” he said. “That extends to former Mayors Richard Bloom and Bobby Shriver, who were also highly supportive. I am particularly indebted to Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek and City Attorney Marsha Moutrie for their excellent guidance and encouragement along the way.”
The decision comes leading up to the endorsement convention for the city’s largest political party, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR). Gould’s name had enter conversation surrounding the highly sought after endorsements. The Pico Delegation, lead by Board of Education member Oscar de la Torre, asked council candidates if they’d commit to firing the city manager.
McKeown, who’d been critical of one of Gould’s personnel decisions earlier in the year, chastised the Pico Delegation’s strategy.
The January 2015 departure date, Gould said, will give council ample time to find a successor.
“His departure is difficult, and provides us an opportunity to take a deep breath and redefine our goals,” McKeown said. “Rather than take any immediate action to seek a successor, the City Council should open a process of public comment and involvement to carefully ascertain the direction desired by residents and other members of our community.”