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Unanimous SLO council picks Derek Johnson as new city manager

Derek Johnson has worked for the city of San Luis Obispo since 2011.
Derek Johnson has worked for the city of San Luis Obispo since 2011.

The expected appointment of Derek Johnson as San Luis Obispo’s new city manager was made all but official Wednesday.

The City Council unanimously directed that an employment contract be negotiated with Johnson, who has served as assistant city manager since 2015 and was being vetted for the position after current city manager Katie Lichtig announced she was leaving to become Santa Monica’s new chief operating officer and assistant city manager.

The council gathered input from the community and city employees through the evaluation process, according to a news release, noting Johnson’s “extensive executive leadership, vision and practical experience” as considerations that led to his promotion.

He was the only person to express interest in the position after an internal search was announced last month, Lichtig said at the time.

Johnson has worked for the city since 2011, formerly serving as the community development director. He assumed the assistant city manager role in 2015, serving as interim finance and information technology director for about six months.

Johnson previously served as the community development director for the city of Capitola between 2010 and 2011. He was a director of long-range planning for the county of Santa Barbara from 2006 to 2010. And he served as the general manager of the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District from 1996 to 2006.

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara in environmental studies and completed the U.S. Army Communications and Combat School.

Johnson’s employment contract will be on the council agenda Sept. 19. More details will be available when the agenda is publicly available Tuesday, the city said.

Lichtig’s last day working for the city will be Sept. 28.

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