A 'goodbye' and a 'hello' from the Nipomo Community Services District
Michael LeBrun officially retired as the Nipomo Community Services District general manager Friday and, to hear him tell it, it’s an ending that is long overdue.
“I knew coming back (in 2011), when I went to permanent again, that for me, I wasn’t going to make 10 years,” LeBrun said. “I honestly did not see myself making it five years. ... But you know, we’ve hit some hurdles, and there is never a good time to go. It’s not a good time now, there’s always stuff. But I know in my heart of hearts that this is time.”
After two separate stints as interim general manager and two as the permanent general manager — for a total of nine years with the district — LeBrun signed off this week after training his replacement, Mario Iglesias.
LeBrun first came to the district in 2004 from the Regional Quality Control Board, where he was a senior engineer. He stayed with the district for a year and a half before stepping down to make way for a general manager who would be able to start several major public works projects the district needed, he said.
Over the next five years, LeBrun would twice be chosen to act as interim general manager while the district cycled through other general managers before ultimately being hired for the permanent position for a second time in June 2011.
I was looking for new adventures, and I certainly found them here. And new challenges as we like to say. I certainly found plenty of those here.
Michael LeBrun, former Nipomo Community Services District general manager
His time with the district was filled with successes and challenges, he said this past week. The most notable mix of both success and challenge was the district’s highly contested $17.5 million supplemental water pipeline project that moved water from Santa Maria to Nipomo and provides a source of water to the town beyond its groundwater basin. The first phase of the project was completed in July 2015 after years of legal setbacks and other delays. Days after its ribbon-cutting ceremony in September, LeBrun announced his plans to resign.
LeBrun said some of his other accomplishments during that time included upgrading a $13 million wastewater treatment plant and helping the district through one of California’s harshest droughts on record. He’s especially proud of the district’s staff, most of whom he personally hired.
“I will forever be able to point at the work I’ve done in the last five years and take pride in what I’ve done here with the community, and those projects,” he said. “But the real legacy lives on in the staff that we’ve instilled these ideals in. And then bringing a man like Mario in, who I assure you, is capable to continue them.”
Iglesias doesn’t seem fazed to be taking over the district’s leadership Monday.
“I’ve got this all under control, and Michael is just going to ride into the sunset,” he said with a laugh as he and LeBrun sat down with The Tribune to talk about the changing of the guard.
The Monterey native comes to the district from Morgan Hill, where he worked as the utility systems manager for close to a decade. Before that, he was general manager of the Aromas Water District for five years.
Morgan Hill, located north of Gilroy, had a population of 41,179 and approximately 12,900 water hookups in 2015. The Aromas Water District, located north of Salinas, had approximately 929 water hookups that same year.
At both sites, Iglesias said he learned what it means to be a public servant.
“It’s one thing to go to work and do your job,” he said. “But realistically, you have to keep that overarching idea and ideals that you’re not just an employee. You aren’t just a person picking up a paycheck. You are, in order to succeed in this, you really have to be able to commit wholly.”
Iglesias said among his top priorities as general manager will be to continue to build out the supplemental pipeline project and to keep LeBrun’s forward momentum going while improving the district office and bolstering its staff.
“He’s really been able to take that synergy, that greater-than-the-individuals idea, and kinda build on that and get that wave of success built into the organization so that they really have a belief in themselves that they can achieve,” Iglesias said of LeBrun. “So what do I do from here? I try to keep that wave going.”
He also said he plans to become a visible member of the Nipomo community by buying a house in town and joining several local boards and groups, though he said the latter will have to wait until he’s fully settled into his role.
Given his long work hours so far, he said, joking, “I know what my office looks like, and I know what Nipomo looks like predawn.”