I have always believed that when a vacancy exists at the top, you fill it with someone from within the organization. Over the past 40 years, I have found myself urging various city councils to replace a police chief, fire chief and other department head slots from within city staff.
Many times, council members think it wise to go outside the city and bring in someone new. School boards have done this as well, to disastrous results. Unless there is compelling evidence that there isn’t a qualified candidate within the ranks, promote from within.
With the recent announcement that Atascadero City Manager Wade McKinney is leaving to take a job with the city of Indian Wells, near Palm Springs, there are many who believe we have a replacement right here on staff in Rachelle Rickard.
I reported on every city government function from the passage of cityhood in the summer of 1979 to the spring of 2004. I have seen a lot of city employees, department heads and certainly city managers come and go. Rachelle has earned her stripes as the person overseeing this city’s finances for so many years.
She is no-nonsense friendly. When she answers a question you actually understand her. She has flawlessly managed the almost $40 million overhaul of the City Administration Building and from everything else I know of her, she plays well with others.
There is no reason to spend thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to find candidates for the job.
I think the city’s management team is making a wise recommendation to promote Rachelle to fill the city manager slot. As Jeri Corgill told the council last week, speaking on behalf of her administrative services department workers, making Rachelle city manager “will ensure the continuity of the city organization and its service to the Atascadero community.”
The city’s department heads, and Corgill’s endorsement specifically, point to Rachelle as being an ideal leader and one with an “incredibly strong work ethic.”
The department heads sent a letter to the council also urging that Rachelle be named to the city’s top management post.
I hope the council will listen to these recommendations and endorsements and promote Rachelle to the job at the next council meeting. I have watched with admiration over the years as Rachelle has managed the city’s finances, interacted with the public and her fellow employees. I agree with Corgill who said, “(Rachelle) is a true believer in transparency in government at all levels.”
Her appointment would be a wise next step for this city.