LA MESA CITY MANAGER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT AND COUNCIL APPOINTED SUCCESSOR

LA MESA . . . Long-time City of La Mesa employee, City Manager Dave Witt has announced his retirement to be effective August 5, 2016. Mr. Witt has served in several positions with La Mesa, starting as the Assistant Planning Director in 1985. Many of his years with La Mesa were involved with planning and redevelopment activities. Prior to his last position as City Manager, Mr. Witt served several years as the Assistant City Manager and Community Development Director.

“On behalf of the entire City we thank and congratulate Dave Witt for his years of service. Mr. Witt has always represented the City of La Mesa with integrity and character. Through his leadership and vision numerous projects were completed that improved and modernized our streets and neighborhoods, while still maintaining the charm that has come to define La Mesa. Dave Witt will be succeeded but never replaced,” said Mayor Mark Arapostathis, Dr. “A”.

Some of the successful projects Mr. Witt recalls as significant contributions to the City’s development in this capacity were the public/private partnerships that helped with the transformation of the Fletcher Parkway Corridor. Mr. Witt was also instrumental in implementing several major park projects and revitalization of the City’s Civic Center facilities. One of the more recent projects that he was glad to see completed as a longtime goal was the first phase of the Downtown Village Streetscape Improvements. Mr. Witt stated that he “has enjoyed the professional responsibility given to me by the City Council in taking the lead on numerous challenging projects that have helped the community develop and grow in a lasting and positive way.”

Mr. Witt noted that he is leaving the organization with a very professional and committed staff, as well as a solid fiscal foundation. The City’s infrastructure is well maintained and systems are well established to support many different options for a bright future for the City. He noted that while there will always be high demands placed on the City by a community that expects and deserves the best in a town which is loved by many, he feels that the organization is well positioned to continue to deliver top level public services and meet the community’s expectations in the years ahead.

In retiring, Mr. Witt stated that, “I truly appreciate all the opportunities La Mesa has given to me to grow professionally as an urban planner and city manager. To develop the plans that reflect community goals and then to find the resources needed to see the projects getting built as imagined has been tremendously rewarding.”

Yvonne Garrett has been appointed by the La Mesa City Council as the new City Manager. “The City Council is very pleased with their choice to name Yvonne Garrett as La Mesa’s City Manager. Mrs. Garrett is the most qualified person in the region. As Assistant City Manager and Director of Community Services she acquired a unique skill set that will be beneficial in her service to our City. We all congratulate Yvonne Garrett,” said Mayor Mark Arapostathis, Dr. “A”.

Mrs. Garrett has been the Assistant City Manager/Director of Community Services for the City of La Mesa since 2010. In addition, Mrs. Garrett has been the Director of the La Mesa Park and Recreation Foundation, a private non-profit organization that raises funds for park improvements and facilitates recreational education and cultural programs in La Mesa. She has worked for the City for 16 years. Prior to working for the City of La Mesa she was the Executive Director of the Alpine Community Center for 13 years.

As Assistant City Manager, Mrs. Garrett, handled special projects for the City including developing a Health and Wellness Element for the General Plan, and completion of the Parks Master Plan. She provided staff support to the City’s Centennial celebration in 2012. Mrs. Garrett also oversaw the La Mesa Community Center complex including the Adult Enrichment Center, municipal pool, and recreational classes.

Mrs. Garrett in her tenure with La Mesa completed several major capital projects including the award winning PARKS Project, the La Mesa Teen Center and has been instrumental in promoting walkability in the City of La Mesa. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and English from Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA, and a Masters of Public Administration degree from Ashford University, Clinton Iowa.

 Garrett said of the appointment, “I would like to thank the City Council for their confidence in me and I am excited to continue working for a wonderful community, La Mesa is truly everyone’s image of their own hometown.”

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Tags: City, La, Manager, Mesa

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Comment by Gene Carpenter on July 12, 2016 at 3:58pm
Sure, I'm good for a rebuff! Who managed the $40K the City lost on the Legacy Project lost because they couldn't be bothered with keeping the Donor in the loop?

As to Ernie, I'm sorry he had to leave due to a family issue, assuming I heard correctly, I don't like anyone having to deal with those kind of circumstances no matter how I feel about them personally. Family first!
Comment by Kevin G George on July 12, 2016 at 10:20am

Hey Gene, still prepared to take a solid rebuff?

Comment by Gene Carpenter on October 25, 2014 at 9:30am

My concern is that there are only nine days until the Election. I heard that as of last Saturday, 63% of the absentee votes were in. Take a second and think who our City Council may be Jan 1.
I'm prepared to take a solid rebuff on the possibility of who could be the new Councils choice for City Manager when Mr Witt retires and will suggest that it could be Ernie Ewin if he chose to put in for the position. That would certainly be a force. Who's going to be there able to stand up and dissent when necessary against that possible scenario. One potential voice? Even if Ernie isn't in the equation?
Comment by Gene Carpenter on July 8, 2016 at 6:23pm
Not much Citizens can do about those kind of hiring practices except vote for Candidates that value "Transperency" over "Closed Door" decisions.
It was very interesting and engrossing to hear the public interviews for Commission vacancies last month presented to both the Council as well as the Citizens. It will be fascinating to see who the Council chooses as several of those wanting the positions were qualified to the level they sounded more like Credentialed College Professor Candidates, some with worldwide experience willing to bring that expertise and experience to share and benefit the City of La Mesa. Made me very proud to live here and most curious who our current Council will choose.
Comment by Kevin G George on July 4, 2016 at 10:02am

Whether or not this action is legal is not the question. Everything was done above board and State law does not require public input for hiring.

 But as we all know just because it's legal doesn't make it right and the lack of transparency is questionable.

My questions is: Why the rush? Would it have been any different to officially announce Mr Witts retirement at this meeting and then wait until the next meeting to announce his replacement?

Another concern is that the newly hired City Manager is charged with the duty to hire her own assistant City Manager. This is important in light of the fact that Yvonne Garret was assistant to Dave Witt, Dave Witt was assistant to Sandra Kerl, Sandra Kerl was assistant to Dave Weir. They were all appointed by their predecessor.

Is that a healthy situation? 

I am sure there is no purposeful impropriety here, and I am also sure Yvonne Garret is qualified for the job, but if one approaches this situation objectively this procedure appears to be deeply flawed.

I am not saying there is necessarily a skeleton in the closet, but if there was it could have been passed down from manager to assistant manager for the last 25 years.

It's a matter of policy in the business world to avoid having the same auditors inspect the books year after year just for the fact of having fresh, uninfluenced eyes look at the books. 

Also I understand the view that says Yvonne Garret is the best person for the job because of the continuity of leadership she would provide. But wouldn't there be the same continuity if she remained assistant to a new, fresh manager?

The City Manager is the most important position in a Council/Manager system. The City Manager is the only person the Council directly hires. He is also important due to the fact that  every Council for as long as I can remember has said at one point or another  " We can't do that" or ' We have to do that, because the City Manager makes that decision".

The choice of City Manager is a very important one and every step to assure the public is getting the best person for the job should be taken.

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