After 18 months of interim leadership, David White has taken the helm as the permanent City Manager of Santa Monica.

White brings with him five years of experience as the City Manager of Fairfield and two years of experience as the Deputy City Manager of Berkeley, where he recently relocated from.

“I am incredibly eager to work with the City Council and take the time to get to know residents, business and property owners, the diverse community organizations, dedicated volunteers, and members of our Boards and Commissions that make Santa Monica a community with strong ties, and the tremendous employees that serve this community on a daily basis,” said White in a public statement released on Oct. 11.

As City Manager, White will oversee a total City budget of $705.5 million and a workforce of 1,923. He will be responsible for leading the continued economic recovery of Santa Monica and the gradual rebuilding of its municipal workforce, which in 2020 was reduced by around 25 percent due to pandemic related budget restructuring.

“The pandemic has been mentally and physically exhausting, and has had dire financial consequences,” said White. “In addition, I am sober to the fact that the City organization and service levels have been deeply impacted. We have important work to do to chart a path forward to restore service levels and implement approaches to serve the community well with limited resources.”

While serving as the City Manager of Fairfield, White built back the city’s organization after the Great Recession. He has a strong background in finance and previously served as Finance Director of Fairfield and as an investment banker. White seeks to utilize this expertise to improve the fiscal health of the City and aid in the recovery of local businesses.

White originally hails from Southern California, but has lived in many cities over the course of his career including Boston, Brooklyn, Berkeley and El Cerrito. He said he is excited to return home to the region and build a new life with his wife in Santa Monica.

White described his leadership style as collaborative and inclusive, and indicated a desire to engage with a wide range of stakeholders.

“When we work together and build strong partnerships that value the input of each and every person’s perspective, I am confident that we will be successful,” said White.

The start of White’s tenure marks the end of a long and at times turbulent search for a new City leader.

Former City Manager Rick Cole resigned at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, citing an inability to preside over the dramatic budget and staffing cuts the City was facing. Then City Attorney Lane Dilg took over as Interim City Manager until leaving in June 2021, when John Jalili took over as Interim City Manager.

City Council began the search for a permanent City Manager in February 2021. Montebello City Manager Rene Bobadilla was first tapped to fill the role in June 2021, but declined the offer after a press leak of his selection prompted Montebello City Council to offer him a significant raise.

Council announced White’s selection on July 22 and he began his role on Oct. 11.

Clara@smdp.com