New city manager lays out his approach to city government – Pasadena Now
In an interview with Pasadena Now On Wednesday, new city manager Miguel Márquez said his approach to leading the city would be based on humility.
“Recognizing that while I’ve had a lot of experience with many government entities, and I’m proud to bring the value of that to Pasadena, I need to listen, with humility, and learn what the issues are in this community. ?” he said.
“What have we already done?” How do we build? I mean, you don’t become a city like Pasadena without doing a lot of things right. This town has a good long history, as I said. I look at it, it has so much character, so much style, charm and sophistication, that I think it would be a mistake to think, Hey, I’m here. And that’s how we did it up there. I would never do that. I would say, let me find out what the issues are on your part.
Márquez will start work on Monday.
Márquez was introduced to the media in July. He succeeds Steve Mermell who left town in December.
Márquez has spent time studying the city charter since being hired.
“I have already carefully reviewed the charter and I understand the charter and how it works,” he said. “And it is the role of the city manager to implement the policies of the council and the mayor. Let’s see where the Council sees us going. Let’s find out where we came from and where we are, and find a way forward that brings it all together to build the kind of society we’d like to see with the right values, solving all the right problems for all the right reasons.
Márquez last served as chief operating officer of Santa Clara County, where he was responsible for all operations in the county, the largest in Northern California with nearly two million people. 22,000 full-time employees and an annual operating budget of over $11. billion.
Márquez was responsible for operations, including the county’s public health department, health and hospital system, public safety and justice systems, social services agency, parks and recreation, the operations center of emergency, including helping lead the county’s pandemic response, the Office of Supportive Housing. , and work with the community to address social justice issues.
Prior to his role in Santa Clara, Márquez served as an associate judge of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth District of California, Santa Clara County attorney, general counsel for the San Francisco Unified School District, and deputy. city attorney at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office. He was the first Latino judge to be confirmed to the Sixth District Court of Appeals.
Márquez’s parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico with only a limited amount of formal education.
In Pasadena, Márquez will oversee a public sector agency, public/private partnerships and a full-service city with robust services with an approximate budget of $900 million and a dedicated and talented staff of approximately 2,000 employees and a community committed by approximately 140,000 people.
Pasadena has a city council-manager type government, which requires the elected city council to serve as the city’s chief legislative body and appoint a city manager to oversee day-to-day city operations, draft a budget, implement and enforce the the Council’s policy and legislative initiatives and oversees 14 of the city’s 16 departments.
He will certainly have his work cut out for him.
One of his first challenges will be choosing a police chief, as he will also figure out how to navigate the city through an affordable housing crisis.
In a letter released Tuesday, local activists in Pasadena and Altadena (where Márquez has no authority) asked Acting City Manager Cynthia Kurtz to set up a public meeting with Márquez so they could tell her their concerns about the city’s problems.
The letter had not reached Márquez at Pasadena Nowthe interview.
“So my immediate thought is that I’m not aware of this letter,” Márquez said. “I don’t know what he’s saying, and I haven’t told Cynthia about it. I come here with humility to listen and learn. I don’t know the best way to learn from all of these progressive advocates or groups. For me, they are part of the constellation of community members I want to learn from. So I’m very open to finding the best and most conducive forum for me to meet here and understand their views on all the issues they care about. »
In the letter, the activists said their most pressing concerns include “transparency and accountability for our leaders, lack of affordable housing and homelessness, an end to gun violence, and safe and impartial policing. “.
The group has also publicly called for the community to have a meaningful opportunity to participate in decision-making regarding the allocation of the remaining $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds the city received from the federal government earlier this year. year.
Pasadena Now did not raise the issue of ARPA funds with Márquez. This money can only be spent with the approval of the Council according to certain criteria established by the federal government. But Márquez addressed some of the other issues in the activists’ letter, including the need for transparency.
“I think transparency is one of the fundamental principles of effective government,” Márquez said. “And for that reason, I think there are a lot of laws and rules and regulations that require it. Whether it’s the Brown Law or the Public Records Act. And I think it’s the government’s duty not only to comply because it has to, but to recognize that you’re happily complying, frankly, because that’s what our democracy is.
“And so you’re not just complying with the letter of the law, you’re complying with the spirit of the law. So for me, transparency is a principle that will underpin my way of working. That said, even laws passed by Sacramento that talk about transparency have times when you don’t make things transparent. There are closed sessions that are narrowly defined to include things like personnel decisions, labor negotiations, real estate issues. »