Top Candidate For San Leandro City Manager Declines Offer

By Steven Tavares
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San Leandro’s search for a city manager has become far more complicated in the past two weeks, according to a source familiar with the city council’s deliberations.

The council met in a special closed session meeting May 21 not to finalize an agreement to offer the position to the preferred candidate culled from over 30 applicants, but to formulate a new direction after first choice of the ad-hoc committee rebuffed its offer.

Although the council approved the candidate by a slim 4-3 margin, the unknown person declined the job in the absence of a unanimous vote. The three-person ad-hoc committee made up of Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilwomen Ursula Reed and Diana Souza are believed to have voted with the majority.

On to Plan B.

Most likely the council will move onto the next preferred candidate, but news of the split decision and the appearance of not being the initial choice could prove problematic for the potential new hire.

Current City Manager Stephen Hollister announced at the beginning of the year he would step down by the end of June. The abrupt announcement triggered an ambitious timetable for selecting a new city manager.

Whether the city manager’s job in San Leandro is a desirable landing spot for highly-qualified candidate has become questionable in the past few months. Calls for focusing the search on candidates willing to lay roots in San Leandro along with its relatively low salary among Bay Area cities have put more pressure on fielding acceptable candidates.

Alameda, for instance, filled its vacant city manager position in far less time and attracted more than double the number of applicants than San Leandro. It eventually hired John Russo, the former city attorney of Oakland.