Former Auburn, Alabama City Manager Selected To Succeed Martinez In Redlands

Redlands has hired a 28-year municipal/governmental agency management professional who spent 26 of those years outside of California to serve as its next city manager.
Charles Duggan was the city manager of Auburn, Alabama for more than a decade, ending in 2017, when he voluntarily retired from that post at the age of 46 to go to the Bay Area, where he has overseen financial operations of a large water district in Northern California for the last two years.
Duggan was a 20-year-old student at Auburn University where he was obtaining a bachelor of science degree in advanced physics when in February 1991 he applied for and obtained a part time position with the City of Auburn as a coach of a junior high level soccer team in the parks and recreation department.
While he completed his undergraduate studies at Auburn and then pursued his master of business administration as part of Auburn University’s graduate program, Duggan remained employed in the parks and recreation department in various capacities for seven years, the last two as the director of special programs.
From October 1998 until July 2005, Duggan was the deputy director of information technology with the City of Auburn, which allowed him contact with a full range of the city’s department heads and staff, and he familiarized himself with all aspects of municipal function. Knowing the city from the internal framework of the information technology division laid the foundation of his future managerial roles, Duggan told the Opelika-Auburn News in 2016.
In August 2005, Duggan was promoted to the position of deputy city manager. He remained in that capacity only seven months, and was elevated to the position of acting city manager at the end of February 2006, when the city council sacked his predecessor, David Watkins. Duggan was credited with maintaining the council’s and the collective community’s equanimity in the aftermath of Watkins’ forced departure. The search for a new city manager Duggan was guiding the council through ended when he was put into the position of the city’s top staff member. He remained in the city manager capacity for 11 years and one month.
During his tenure, Auburn dealt with fiscal issues and growth challenges, including major renovations to the Auburn landmark Toomer’s Corner; significant renewal projects along Opelika Road, a major Auburn thoroughfare, up to the Auburn Mall; the revitalization of the city’s primary commercial corridor; and collaboration with the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, particularly in the city’s downtown district.
For several of the city managers who had preceded him, development had been a thorny issue. Duggan ameliorated that circumstance by coordinating the adoption of Auburn’s Comprehensive Plan, which was awarded Best Comprehensive Plan for 2012 by the Alabama Chapter of the American Planning Association.
There were also social issues in Auburn, a university city of approximately 64,000 population, that were prototypically Alabaman rather than of the sort normally dealt with in California.
One of those, in 2009, involved an African-American member of the Auburn City Council taking umbrage when the United Daughters of the Confederacy placed Confederate flags on the tombstones of Confederate Civil War veterans at Auburn’s historic cemetery. The councilman removed the flags, breaking one in the process. There was a degree of contretemps over the matter, which carried with it the potential for becoming explosive but which was defused when the councilman paid for the flag he had desecrated.
Another controversy in the city in 2009 involved an adult bookstore setting itself up in Auburn after obtaining a business license in which it was represented as a women’s clothing store.
An initiative Duggan championed while he was in place in Auburn was the application of high performing organizational concepts and metrics in management, as well as the review of efficiencies in communication and cooperation between city departments, in particular the engineering and planning divisions, in order to progress toward managerial and administrative goals.
Duggan’s departure from Auburn came of his own volition, as he was drawn to what he considered to be the visually attractive vistas of Northern California, in particular Yosemite, Muir Woods, the Napa Valley, San Francisco Bay and the California Coast.
Duggan landed the position of administrative services division manager and treasurer with the Marin Municipal Water District in Northern California.
He applied for the city manager’s position in Redlands after the city undertook to do a nationwide search to replace former City Manager Nabar Martinez. The city’s selection process began in May with the solicitation of applications. In July, the firm of Ralph Anderson & Associates was hired to coordinate the executive search and evaluation, which included seeking community input. A total of 44 applicants deemed to have met the city’s standards were subjected to a winnowing process by Ralph Anderson & Associates until the field was reduced to a half dozen by early October. Those six were interviewed by the city council. Duggan and a single other candidate were thereafter interviewed extensively on October 26 in a round of exchanges with former city council members, community members, labor representatives and business sector leaders. Using those panels’ evaluations as a guide, the city council interviewed both candidates on October 27. A consensus to hire Duggan was achieved thereafter.
The hiring of a city manager was placed at the end of the November 5 city council meeting agenda but was advanced to the top of the agenda and considered prior to the intervening agendized items between it and the meeting’s convocation by the prerogative of Mayor Paul Foster.
Foster said, “We have been working for some time toward the selection of a new city manager for the City of Redlands. I am pleased to announce that we have concluded that process.”
Foster then read his own prepared statement. “The Redlands City Council is proud to appoint Charles M. Duggan, Jr. as the new Redlands City Manager effective January 13, 2020, concluding an extensive recruitment process that included 44 applicants, residents and business participation and multiple community interview panels,” Foster said. “This has been a thorough, deliberative and collaborative process with our residents, our labor partners, the business community and my colleagues to identify the best candidates, one who will provide effective, efficient leadership and who will guide our city staff as we embrace the opportunities and the challenges that are opening before us. We are looking forward to Mr. Duggan engaging with our community, connecting with all our civic stakeholders and beginning a dialogue with our residents as we move forward into a bright future.”
Foster then continued with a statement attributed to Duggan. “I would like to thank the city council for entrusting me with this responsibility,” Foster read, quoting Duggan. “I am excited about the opportunity to work with such an engaged citizenry and capable staff. The great pride exhibited by the residents, elected officials and city staff is what first drew me to this wonderful community, and I look forward to being an active resident, partner and leader. My initial goals will be learning the values of the community; working for the citizens with and through their elected officials; listening to residents’ views on the future of Redlands and being a part of a team focused on providing the very best service that local government has to offer.”
On a motion by Councilwoman Denise Davis, the council unanimously approved Duggan’s hiring.
-Mark Gutglueck

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