San Leandro Names Interim City Manager As Search Starts Over

By Steven Tavares
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Before it took too many steps backwards in its search for a new city manager, the San Leandro City Council named Lianne Marshall as interim city manager as the city resets its strategy to find a replacement for the retiring Stephen Hollister.

Marshall, the current assistant city manager since Oct. 2009, will, by most views, hold the position as a caretaker until a new city manager is found. Although her name was on a short list of rumored in-house candidates, Marshall was not among roughly 30 applicants for the position.

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy also announced, Monday night, a council decision to hire a recruitment search firm to seek new applicants for the job. As reported in The Citizen, the selection of a candidate by an ad-hoc committee comprised of Cassidy and Councilmembers Diana Souza and Ursula Reed, received less than unanimous backing by the council. The candidate reportedly withdrew interest absent the fully backing of his future potential bosses.

The political retreat by Cassidy  and others on the council to restart the search is a ringing defeat for the new mayor who has spent the first five months of his tenure attempting to look at the city’s problems in a new light. The divided council is also a reminder of Cassidy’s poor reputation for comity and coalition-building.

Marshall came to the city after a two-year stint in Martinez in the same capacity. Her hiring during what may have been viewed in hindsight as the height of the current poor economy, drew some complaints among San Leandro residents who believed the expansion of the city manager’s office was an extravagance while nearly all departments faced cuts to staff.

Hollister’s decision to retire made last December came after the City Council voted in close session not to renew his contract, which ends June 30. He offered to stay on through the search for a his successor, but difficulties among the council to agree to a common strategy for the traits of the new city manager have stifled what, most agree, was an already ambitious six-month timetable.