Milpitas Selects New Interim City Manager Who Was Fired From Previous Job in Arroyo Grande

Milpitas is still struggling to move on from the dysfunctional regime of ex-City Manager Tom Williams, who got ousted last year after getting caught misspending taxpayer money. But the City Council’s pick of new interim successor on Tuesday raises questions about its judgment. Officials on Tuesday were poised to announce a final pick out of a field of 30 applicants and a handful of finalists. But instead of making an offer to one of the strongest candidates—Julie Edmonds-Mares, a deputy city manager in San Jose who didn’t respond to Fly’s call for comment by press time—the council unanimously voted to hire someone with a checkered past for the time being. That is: Dianne Thompson, who was fired as city manager of Arroyo Grande in 2016 and will take the reigns in Milpitas from former police chief Steve Pangelinan, who has filled the post since Williams left last fall. That reportedly makes Thompson the first female city manager—interim or not—in Milpitas history. No word yet on what led to her termination after less than a year on the job in the Central Coast town. Reached earlier in the day Tuesday, Councilman Anthony Phan made no mention of Thompson and would neither confirm nor deny whether Edmonds-Mares was a final contender. “All I can say is that Julie Edmonds-Mares’ leadership is admirable and she would make a fine city manager anywhere.” Edmonds-Mares came to San Jose in 2007 after 12 years with the city of Tucson, Arizona. The veteran public servant worked her way up from acting to permanent parks ’n rec chief before being bumped up to the city manager’s team in 2015. First-term Mayor Rich Tran, who campaigned as a vocal critic of Williams, skipped the Jan. 11 panel interviews because of a National Guard assignment and wasn’t familiar with Edmonds-Mares, Thompson or the other finalists when Fly pressed for more details. He said he just wants the next top bureaucrat to be a step up from Williams, whose alleged bullying and harassment led to a pricy staff exodus and several millions of dollars in legal settlements. “Whoever it is, I just want it to be someone that truly loves the people of our city and someone who wants to be remembered in the city’s history as one of the best,” Tran told Fly on Tuesday, hours before the closed session discussion about the ongoing recruitment. “The people deserve it.” Hours later, he cast his vote for Thompson. It will be interesting to see how a city manager found undeserving of the job in Arroyo Grande will fare in Milpitas.

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11 Comments

  1. If Rich Tran wants to hire a better city manager than Tom Williams, he should be familiar with the applicants ahead of time. That quote from him is Trump-esque.

    Very curious about why Thompson was fired from Arroyo Grande. I don’t think her career in public service should be over just because she was fired, but the way that it’s described makes it sound like she was let go as a result of personality or temperament. I’m speculating; they say she was not fired for any one incident, but a “difference in style,” which seems like a nice way of saying that she did not build positive relationships. Maybe getting fired was a wake-up call for her, maybe it really was a situation unique to Arroyo Grande. But why take the risk when there are more qualified applicants?

  2. Let’s hope this is indeed an interim position and they will hire a qualified City Manager and not someone who was fired for unknown reasons from her last job. 30 finalists and they pick the only one who was fired from her previous job! Good grief!

  3. These government bureaucrats never get off the merry-go-round which just keeps spinning and spinning. Don’t like the horse you’re on? Simply move forward, backward, or sideways to a different horse. LIke playing leap frog with the gravy train always comfortably close by.

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