The city of Solvang’s administrative services director, Xenia Bradford, has been named acting city manager.
The City Council on Monday voted to offer the temporary job to Matt van der Linden, Solvang’s long-time public works director, or to Bradford, if van der Linden declined.
Van der Linden turned down the offer, saying he wants to focus on public works projects and council goals, he said.
“I believe the best way I can serve the City Council and the residents/businesses of Solvang is to focus on public works and capital projects, especially our upcoming major wastewater treatment plant upgrade,” van der Linden said. “I do not believe I would be able to effectively oversee the Public Works Department and serve as acting city manager.”
Bradford, recently hired as administrative services director for Solvang after filling the job temporarily, previously worked as finance director for the city of San Luis Obispo, where she managed a team of 18 employees.
“I am honored and excited to assume the acting city manager position,” Bradford said. “I look forward to working closely with the City Council to deliver on council goals.”
In addition to filling the acting city manager role, she will manage the Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology departments.
Bradford also has worked for Santa Barbara County, and has held positions in the private sector.
She applied for the city manager’s job during the search that ended with the selection of David Gassaway, who resigned last week.
“As a member of the finance committee, I’ve worked very closely with Xenia on the development of the budget,” Mayor Ryan Toussaint said, adding that he and Councilman Daniel Johnson had a very positive experience working with Bradford.
“She is very capable and will certainly excel with her new responsibilities,” Toussaint added.
Bradford received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCSB, along with a master of public policy with an emphasis in local government and international relations from Pepperdine University.
Additionally, she attended Santa Barbara College of Law, and graduated in 2008.
The need for an acting city manager arose because the City Council majority of Mayor Ryan Toussaint and councilmen Chris Djernaes and Daniel Johnson asked City Manager David Gassaway for his resignation during a closed session meeting.
Gassaway, who worked for the city for five months, will receive six months of salary and benefits as his severance package.
More than two hours into Monday night’s meeting, City Attorney Chip Wullbrandt said the council needed to add an urgency item to the agenda to appoint someone to lead city staff.
“Earlier this evening, I was of the understanding that there was a written designation of who takes over city manager responsibilities in the absence the city manager,” he told the council. “I’ve now done some additional research, and found out that there is no such a designation that had occurred.”
Most council members felt van der Linden’s tenure and experience should give him the right of first refusal, but recognized his already heavy workload.
The decision to ask van der Linden wasn’t unanimous, with Johnson voting against his appointment in favor of Bradford.
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.