Letter: A New Chapter Begins This Year At City Hall

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Congratulations to retiring City Manager John Pietig, who has served Laguna for 20 years. Prior to his appointment, Ken Frank retired in 2010 after 31 years of service. Think of it: just two city managers have served the city for over 41 years. Pretty remarkable.

As we look to Laguna’s future, we should ask ourselves: what do we, as a city, want in our new city manager? Do we want to continue with existing business models or, in a post-COVID world, do we want to consider new ways of serving residents, businesses and guests?

We have an opportunity—apparently a rare one, if the past is any guide—to be involved in how we want our town to move forward.

Laguna is unique: a small population living in a historic arts community, surrounded by incredible natural beauty and much larger cities. Some of us rent, some own second homes but all of us embrace the many things that make Laguna, Laguna, many passionately.

So as the town begins its search for our next city manager, now may be the best time to ask: what do we want the professional who fills this crucial job to do and be?

Is the role of the city manager to execute the wishes of the city council as given to them by a majority of its residents? To liaison between competing political factions, the administration and staff? To improve procedures, streamline operations and provide options using a data-driven process? A strong team builder who uses communication skills and problem-solving expertise to resolve challenges in a transparent way?

Add to the wish list someone with an extensive financial background, integrity and listening skills, a leader and a bootstrapper, unafraid to examine current practices with fresh eyes.

Even though we are a small town, we welcome more than 6 million visitors in a normal year and our issues are many and complex. We deserve to recruit the very best of the best.

Trish Sweeney, Laguna Beach

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