Morro Bay City Manager David Buckingham is a finalist for a job in another state for the second time in six months.
Hired by Morro Bay in 2014, Buckingham is one of two finalists for a town manager position in Vail, Colorado. He previously was a finalist for a city manager opening in Whitefish, Montana, but the city chose another candidate in December 2016.
Councilman Robert “Red” Davis said in an email to The Tribune that “(Buckingham) has never stopped applying for positions since the election.”
“I expect that he will keep trying (to land a new job) until he succeeds,” Davis said.
During the campaign leading up to the City Council election in November, several candidates said they wanted to replace Buckingham. He said then that the situation prompted him to apply for the Montana position.
“It would have been irresponsible of me as a husband and father not to consider alternatives and take appropriate preparatory actions such as applying for this fantastic opportunity in beautiful, wonderful Whitefish,” Buckingham said in December. “While those candidates were not elected, as a man of my word I determined it appropriate to let the process move forward.”
At the time, Buckingham said he was happy serving Morro Bay and could see himself and his family (he is married with five children) staying up to 15 years. That statement sent a “mixed message” to the council, Mayor Jamie Irons said Friday.
Irons said he’s “a little disappointed and concerned for the city and community and employees” because of the uncertainty in the city’s top administrative position.
“I will say that we have great staff and good employees who are working extremely hard,” Irons said. “I feel confident that we can get through this. Dave is doing what he feels he needs to do. Regardless of how it turns out, we have to get through this.”
Buckingham earns about $160,000 a year plus benefits in Morro Bay and said Friday that compensation is “not an issue” with the job. He called the Vail job an “amazing opportunity.”
“Both professionally and personally, this is an amazing opportunity and I am humbled and excited to have made it to the final two,” Buckingham said. “While we thoroughly enjoy the Central Coast of California, and could see ourselves there for many years, our family truly loves the mountains and the opportunity to live and work in a world-class international mountain resort community is a lifetime dream.”
Buckingham served in the U.S. Army for more than 25 years, retiring with a rank as colonel before being hired in Morro Bay in September 2014. It was his first job as a city manager.