I’ve spent nearly 30 years in public service in local government, the last fifteen as a City Manager. Since 2004, I’ve had the privilege of being City Manager of Ventura. It’s here I will stay, although no longer as City Manager after September 15.
In a statement released today, our City Council announced: “During City Manager Rick Cole’s annual evaluation, it became clear that a majority of the City Council believes that it is time for a change in leadership. In response to the Council’s evaluation and respecting the Council’s responsibility, Mr. Cole offered to resign and retire subject to a mutually agreeable application of the severance provisions of his existing employment agreement and certain other terms. Mayor Tracy said, ‘The Council recognizes Mr. Cole’s vision and dedication during his time as our City Manager and the many accomplishments during the past eight and a half years, notably the adoption and implementation of our General Plan and making the hard choices that have ensured Ventura has lived within our means during tough economic times. We appreciate his service to our community and wish him well in his future endeavors.’”
Mayor Mike Tracy and I agree on many things, but two stand out in this situation. First, what’s good for Ventura comes first. Second, better to tell the truth, even if it is uncomfortable. I’m not leaving to spend more time with my family — although I’m looking forward to that. I’m not leaving to “pursue other opportunities,” although I’m excited about that too. I’m resigning because after eight and half years, the majority of the Council believe it is time for a change in leadership.
Public service truly is a privilege. In difficult times, leadership is difficult. I’m painfully aware of my own shortcomings, missteps, mistakes and missed opportunities. We all have them. Now it’s my responsibility to hand off the baton to new leadership. That’s happened many times in the 146 years we’ve been a city and the 78 years since voters instituted the City Council/City Manager form of government in our charter.
Like all the members of the City Council, I love and cherish this community. It is a great place to raise my family. Having weathered the worst of the economic storm, I believe Ventura’s best years are ahead of us. I look forward to contributing as a citizen to Ventura’s future successes.
I want to thank the Council and countless citizens I’ve had the chance to work with as we’ve collaborated on Ventura’s ambitious vision to be a model community in so many ways. You’ve inspired me and I hope I’ve served you well. Above all, I want to convey my profound gratitude to the City staff who continue to do great work, embracing and pioneering innovative approaches to public service.
For me, I aspire to live up to the words of Paul in his letter to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
Blessings to you and the City of San Buenaventura.