City Council finished its first round of interviews for Santa Monica’s next city manager this weekend, meaning the search for the city’s first permanent manager since Rick Cole resigned in April 2020 could soon be completed.

Council conducted interviews throughout Friday and Saturday, according to a public notice posted on the Council’s agenda. They were held in closed session so little information is available on who the leading candidates are since city leaders have remained mum on the matter in an effort to retain the search’s integrity.

Dilg, who took the reins as Interim City Manager in April 2020, announced her intention to leave the city back in December as her family relocates to pursue other public service ventures. A few months later, Santa Monica City Council unanimously directed staff to retain Lamont Ewell (who managed Santa Monica until 2009) of Ralph Andersen & Associates to search for a replacement.

Councilmember Gleam Davis, who joined Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Councilmember Oscar de la Torre on an ad-hoc committee tasked with hiring a search firm, clarified that Ewell will not be responsible for hiring a city manager; instead, he will recommend a short list of candidates who will be interviewed by the Council before a selection is made.

Himmelrich highlighted Ralph Andersen & Associates’ rigorous background checking capacities and the firm’s broad network within the state when stating why she felt the firm was the best fit. Dilg shared that she wasn’t exactly sure how long it would take to find a replacement but she did believe the process should be deliberate and thoughtful.

“When looking for a city manager, I think that we want a city manager for the long-term and we want that person to provide excellence for the community and continuity,” she said.

Councilmember Kevin McKeown agreed in a February interview and reiterated the point this week.

“We want someone who can understand Santa Monica’s unique characteristics and needs,” he said. “Clearly, our new city manager will be tasked with bringing us back from COVID and its economic struggles as a reinvented community, but at the same time, we want a refreshed and recognizable Santa Monica, not losing our historic identity.”

Police Chief Search

In addition to the ongoing search for a City Manager, Ralph Andersen & Associates has also been tasked with conducting the executive search for Santa Monica next Police Chief, and lead consultants Greg Nelson and Bryan Noblett intend to hold a community listening session from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 20 in an effort to receive feedback that will help inform the selection process.

The 90-minute conversation will center around three questions: What are the most important characteristics Chief candidates should possess; what do you believe are the top challenges and opportunities for Santa Monica’s next Police Chief; and what qualities about Santa Monica do you believe would attract top candidates?

Residents can now register by visiting bit.ly/3boF0hN.

“A key component of the recruitment is to understand the community’s perspective on this key leadership position,” the page states.

Brennon@smdp.com