City Council hits pause on city manager search

While the City of Malibu has been prioritizing fire rebuilds, public safety on highways, and now preparing for the transition to in-person meetings, the search for a permanent city manager has been delayed and left unfilled for nearly a year.

Since the departure of Lisa Soghor earlier this year, Steve McClary has been serving as the interim city manager and providing the updates on departments, programs and services during every City Council meeting.

The city voted unanimously to hire McClary to serve as interim city manager on April 29, 2021, during a special council meeting. He started his career in local government in Fillmore in 1997 and has formerly worked as assistant city manager for Camarillo and city manager for Ojai.

During the Malibu Business Roundtable meeting on Friday, McClary said they have conducted interviews with the candidates and hope to fill that position soon.

During the same meeting, Mayor Paul Grisanti said they have taken a hiatus in filling the position and are concentrating on city issues. 

While the topic is briefly discussed during virtual meetings, members of the council are eager to fill the position.

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“The city manager search seems to have stalled for reasons I fail to understand or appreciate,” Interim Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein said in an email to The Malibu Times. “I have been pressing for the process to continue, but it has not done so. Steve McClary is doing a great job as the interim city manager, and he may end up being offered the permanent position, but it should not be by default on account of the process having stalled. I will continue to press for the search process to continue in a robust manner, and it may be helpful for residents to press for this also.”

Grisanti did not provide a comment on the city manager search. The Malibu Times was unable to receive a response from McClary as he was out of the office. 

According to the City of Malibu website, the city manager is appointed by the City Council and is responsible for the efficient administration of city resources and operations in accordance with the Malibu Municipal Code. The city manager provides professional leadership, management and execution of all city departments, programs, and services.

The city manager administers and executes City Council policy, presenting recommendations and information to enable the City Council to make decisions on matters of policy, responding to all inquiries and requests of citizens, disseminating information regarding city activities, and providing input on regional, state and federal issues that affect the City of Malibu.

In regards to a return to in-person meetings, members of the council have waited to confirm the safety of its participants and city staff. On March 28, the City Council voted to resume in-person council meetings starting May 9, and directed the city’s commissions, committees and boards to return to in-person meetings at their next regular meeting after May 9.

“The City Council is united in their desire to return to in person meetings as soon as possible,” Grisanti said in an email to The Malibu Times. “I am personally confident that the staff will be prepared for the meeting scheduled for May 9.”

The city will continue to broadcast City Council meetings live on Malibu City TV Channel 3, and live and on-demand on the website and the city’s YouTube channel. With the resumption of in-person meetings, public comment can only be made in-person or in writing. Written comments can be sent to the City Council at CityCouncil@MalibuCity.org.

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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