Santa Monica’s incoming city manager told City Council he wants to focus more energy on common goals rather than areas of contention.

Rick Cole, who comes to City Hall’s top job by way of Los Angeles, introduced himself to the public at council’s Tuesday night meeting. He’ll take over the post, which has been open since Rod Gould retired in January, on June 29.

Cole paraphrased Silicon Valley executive Carl Guardino, who said that communities agree on about 80 percent of the big issues, and that successful companies focus about 80 percent of their energy on achieving those shared goals.

“That’s democracy,” he said, “and debate and dialogue is an important part of democracy, but too many communities spend 80 percent of their time obsessing on the 20 percent where they disagree, and that leaves very little time and energy to accomplish the great opportunities that are there to do great work together, to make better schools, to reinvent libraries for the 21st century, to ensure the police and fire (departments) change with the times, and take advantage of technology and keep us all safe.”

He referenced a Japanese principal, “Genchi Genbutsu,” which translates roughly to “Go look, go see.”

Cole said he wants “to take executives out of the ivory tower and make sure that they see what’s happening on the front lines.”

Cole, whose family is from Pasadena, said his father was born in Santa Monica. He extolled the beautiful landscape and the city’s commitment to the environment and social justice.

“The future success of Santa Monica will come from building strong partnership, with our citizens, with our community institutions and organizations, with our businesses, with our regional neighbors and partners, and with the public servants, who work on behalf of this community every day,” he said. “That’s what I would like to contribute to this process, is building and enhancing and strengthening the partnership to shape a more sustainable, a more equitable, a more prosperous, and a more livable Santa Monica that can not only be shared by the people who have the privilege of living here but also the many people who come to visit here, who work here, and most of all as a model for those who Santa Monica inspires to higher values.”

Mayor Kevin McKeown welcomed Cole “home” and minutes later council unanimously approved his contract within the consent calendar. The audience in the council chambers welcomed him with a round of applause.

“I hope we can build this partnership, we can find the areas where we agree, we can take advantage of the consensus to get the things that we all want done, accomplished,” he said. “And of course, this being Santa Monica, have plenty of time left over to dialogue and debate on the things where people have legitimate differences of opinion.”

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