Joseph Toney brings over 15 years of government experience from Southern California coastal cities
By Emmanuel Luissi
Special to The Malibu Times
Ever since he was a teenager, Joseph Toney has always had a competitive spirit. As a sports fan and athlete all of his life, he felt that his competitiveness and desire for improvement has come naturally.
As the new assistant city manager for the City of Malibu, and over 15 years of local government experience from cities and counties across Southern California, Toney hopes to focus on helping build strong teams that will support the direction of the community.
“Malibu is fortunate to have such an experienced professional with a wide range of relevant government experience to step into this important role,” Mayor Paul Grisanti said during the City Council meeting on May 23.
Toney said that he is excited to be part of a community that he calls “world-renowned.” He believes his experience and his ambition will help strengthen the Malibu community.
“I know the city has had plenty of challenges over the last few years, obviously tough ones for the community. But those are also opportunities,” Toney said. “This is an organization where you can really effectuate change and make a positive impact.”
Toney was born in Stockton, but grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He went to high school in nearby Spokane, Washington, where he attended Gonzaga Preparatory School.
He began his college career at the University of San Diego, with a plan to pursue a career in physical therapy and later a career as a medical doctor. Still, he found his true calling in his junior year. He became passionate about politics, policies, and what was going on at the local level of politics, and that is where he felt he hit his stride. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science from USD.
After a year spent on the East Coast, Toney began his career in local government as a legislative assistant for a City Council member in Long Beach. Toney explained that the opportunity was made possible by a close friend named Dave Wodynski, the city’s budget manager.
Toney had picked up lacrosse during his time at USD, and in his senior year, he met Wodynski, a former lacrosse player, who reached out to him because he had realized that they had both gone to the same high school.
Toney said that Wodynski became a mentor and a big brother to him.
“I owe my career to Dave, and I wouldn’t be here without his influence,” Toney said.
Wodynski passed away due to issues with an enlarged heart at the age of 40.
“The irony being that he had a huge heart and was so caring,” Toney said.
After going to work for the City of Long Beach for six years as a legislative assistant and later as a budget analyst, during his time, he’d spend his nights in class at Cal State Long Beach and earned his Master of Public Administration degree.
His following government opportunities came in the Santa Barbara County, where he began as a fiscal and policy analyst. He felt that in his time here, he really pushed himself and was able to grow within the organization. He went on to earn the position of the county’s deputy executive director.
However, he soon found himself seeking a new direction.
“Since I had always been at the executive level or the leadership levels at the start of my career, I wanted to work in a department that got more into the grassroots level of what was going on in an organization,” Toney said.
He was able to find new challenges when he earned the position of assistant director of general services for Santa Barbara County, where he spent seven years. These new challenges helped equip him with even more experience that he finds valuable today and helped him see the inner workings of an organization.
Toney said his early career taught him about budgeting, which is a pillar of local government. Still, internal support such as general services is the foundation of local government.
Toney then went on to work in Simi Valley as the administrative services director.
He enjoyed a smooth transition into this new position, and his work was similar to what he was doing in Santa Barbara County, but because this work focused on a smaller community, the result was more directly impactful.
“We were trying to help city management with citywide projects, we were breaking down barriers and silos in the organization, we were always looking for improvements,” Toney said. “It was a really rewarding role, and I had a great team at Simi Valley.”
He spent three years at Simi Valley before taking the opportunity to work in Malibu.
Toney hopes to be a guiding light for the community with long-term visions. Open to making improvements and always looking to be more efficient and strong.
“I am really happy to be here and looking forward to serving the council and community,” Toney said. “My door, eyes, and ears are always open, and I am excited to start our work together.”