Leaders in San Juan approved the hiring of a new assistant city manager at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Michaele LaForge comes from the private sector, where she worked in the high tech and food production industries. LaForge will also serve as the city’s public works and utilities director and earn an annual salary of $85,000.
According to the staff report, the assistant city manager role is a salaried exempt position that pays around nine percent greater than the approximate $78,000 that city department head positions take home, but 23 percent less than the $110,000 budgeted for the city manager position, which is still vacant.
LaForge’s first day at city hall will be January 2, 2018.
Also at the Tuesday meeting, Vice Mayor Jim West was appointed new Mayor and Councilman John Freeman selected Vice Mayor.
“I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Michaele LaForge,” Interim City Manager Ed Tewes told the council. “She lives in the community and owns property in the City of San Juan Bautista. She has extensive executive management experience in the private sector.”
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, LaForge served as a helicopter pilot during the first Gulf War.
The City of San Juan Bautista has searched for a permanent city manager for months after former top administrator Roger Grimsley abruptly resigned in August. Tewes was brought in to help the city find a permanent replacement.
LaForge will work closely with Tewes as the interim city manager scales down his hours in the coming months before leaving the city no later than May 2018.
“Because the current interim city manager will be leaving in a few months, this appointment of Michaele LaForge will give her the opportunity to gain valuable background experience in city government that will make her an outstanding candidate for the appointment of city manager,” Councilman Chris Martorana said. “Ed Tewes has told us that he intends to reduce his hours over the next few months and will leave as interim city manager no later than May of 2018. The council and I see that period as a great opportunity for Michaele to gain public sector experience, drive progress on critical projects and provide a smooth transition.”
According to Tewes, LaForge has experience in corporate logistics and supply chain management.
“The city council is very excited to work with Ed and Michaele during this transition,” Martorana said. “Ed told us, ‘The city manager needs help.’ Now he has it and the city has a clear leadership path for the future.”