After two years of interim city attorneys, City Council has hired Fresno City Attorney Douglas Sloan to fill the permanent position in Santa Monica.

Sloan has over 30 years of legal experience, including 16 years in the Fresno City Attorney’s Office and nine years as Fresno City Attorney. He will begin work in Santa Monica on June 6 with a base annual salary of $320,000. 

“I appreciate the support and confidence of the Council and other City officials,” said Sloan. “We have spent a lot of time talking in addition to the formal process, and it is clear to me that the Council is dedicated to serving this extraordinary community, and I look forward to being an integral part of that by helping with Santa Monica’s complex legal issues.”  

With the hiring of Sloan, the City of Santa Monica once again has a fully staffed executive team after a turbulent two years of turnover that saw replacements of the city manager, police chief, fire chief and several other leadership positions. 

“I wanted very much to put together with this council, a leadership team that everybody feels comfortable with and feels as if it’s their leadership team, and I like to think that now we’re there,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich, later adding, “I am just relieved that we finally have this final piece of the puzzle.”

The city attorney hiring process was initially delayed as the city manager search took priority, and this process took a long time because the leaking of a top candidate’s name to a local newspaper led that candidate, Rene Bobadilla, to turn down the city’s employment offer. Council then returned to the drawing board and decided to hire Deputy City Manager of Berkeley David White in July 2021. 

The city attorney search itself then also took several months as councilmembers struggled to agree on a candidate, meeting over a dozen times in closed session to discuss applicants. This process was also tainted by accusations of councilmember information leaks out of closed session.

However, councilmembers were ultimately able to put aside their differences and agree on Sloan as the best candidate for the job. 

As City Attorney, Sloan will oversee a total budget of $11.8 million and a workforce of over 40 positions. In Fresno, which has a population of 540,000, Sloan oversaw a budget of $20 million and managed a team of 28 in-house lawyers and an office of more than 148 employees.

Prior to joining the City of Fresno, Sloan worked in the private sector with the Fresno firm Dowling & Aaron, where he handled complex litigation and real estate issues. He also was with the firm of Forrest, Henderson, Sloan & Davis, where he handled complex litigation, including lead trial and appellate counsel in the case of AHDC v. City of Fresno.

During the meeting Mayor Himmelrich also took time to thank the most recent Interim City Attorney, Susan Cola, who stepped into the position on April 6 from her former role of Senior Special Projects Deputy City Attorney. 

“I too want to thank Susan Cola who stepped forward for us when, I’m sorry Susan, nobody else would, and you were there and I so appreciated it,” said Himmelrich.

Prior to Cola, former city lawyer Joseph Lawrence came out of retirement to fill in the interim position from Oct. 1 2021 to April 5, 2022. Prior to Lawrence, another longtime City lawyer George Cardona filled the interim position from April 2020 to September 2021. The permanent position first became vacant in April 2020 when former City Attorney Lane Dilg became interim city manager following former City Manager Rick Cole’s abrupt pandemic induced resignation. 

Sloan announced his intention to leave the City of Fresno on April 28, as reported by the Fresno Bee. Per his new employment contract, Sloan is eligible for up to $20,000 in moving assistance and $3,000 a month for up to seven months of temporary housing rental assistance.