Salinas City Manager Carrigan In As SB Administrator October 4

San Bernardino will welcome Salinas City Manager Steven S. Carrigan, who is currently serving as Salinas’ top administrator, as its city manager on October 4.
Carrigan’s selection has taken place in a series of steps over the last month, the Sentinel has learned. He was among a select group of “about four” finalists among a bevy of applicants for the position who signaled their interest in the position.
Beginning in April and for the next four-and-a-half months, Berkeley-based Gallagher Benefit Services, which is also known as Koff & Associates, evaluated the applicants. The city’s acting city manager, Charles McNeely, who was San Bernardino’s city manager from 2009 until 2012 and was city manager in Reno prior to that, has been doing a parallel evaluation of those interested in taking on his role. According to well-placed individuals within the county seat’s municipal structure, a handful of applicants stood out among the 67 who applied for the job. According to one source, one candidate with impeccably impressive credentials was the odds-on favorite but withdrew after someone informed a member of the city council where that manager currently works of the manager’s application for the San Bernardino post. Because that candidate could not be certain of being hired by San Bernardino, a decision to withdraw the application was made to protect the manager’s current status.
First Ward Councilman Ted Sanchez, Second Ward Councilwoman Sandra Ibarra, Third Ward Councilman Juan Figueroa, Fourth Ward Councilman Fred Shorett and Mayor Helen Tran are sold on Carrigan, the Sentinel is told. Seventh Ward Councilman Damon Alexander is relatively favorably disposed toward Carrigan, as well, but is less enthusiastic than the others. According to the information available to the Sentinel, Fifth Ward Councilman Ben Reynoso and Sixth Ward Councilwoman Kimberly Calvin, while not overtly critical of Carrigan, feel that the city has not fully explored its options with other worthy candidates and should not yet end the recruitment drive and evaluative process.
By August 23, a five-eighths consensus on the council to hire Carrigan had evolved and it was anticipated that that at the council’s specially-called meeting on August 28, at which the matter of a “public employee appointment” for the position of “city manager” was scheduled, Carrigan would be hired at that time. The meeting, however, concluded with no such appointment.
This week, at the council’s Wednesday September 6 meeting, during the council’s closed session, a unanimous decision to make a final offer of employment to Carrigan was made, with Calvin and Reynoso bowing to the reality of Carrigan’s inevitable selection. After the council emerged from that closed session, City Attorney Sonia Carvalho announced an offer of employment had been made, but she did not identify Carrigan as the selection.
A vote on confirming the appointment and the candidate’s acceptance of the contract is set for the October 4 city council meeting. The identification of the council’s selection as city manager – Carrigan – will be provided in the agenda for the October 4 meeting, which is supposed to be posted no later than September 29.
The 59-year-old Carrigan, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Arizona, has been working in the public sector for more than 27 years.
For eight years he was the economic development director in Stockton. Thereafter, he worked as the assistant city manager of 25,000-population Sanger in Fresno County. In 2013, he was hired as the city manager of 37,000-population Los Banos in Merced County and in 2015, the city council with 84,000-population Merced, the county seat of Merced County, hired him as city manager on a three-year contract.
Carrigan applied for the position of Salinas’ city manager when Ray Corpuz Jr. left that post in September 2000. In a competition against 77 other applicants, he underwent interviews by the mayor and city council that were in place prior to the November 2020 election and then further interviews with the new mayor and reconstituted council after the election. Ultimately, he was deemed the most suitable candidate and given the contract in January 2021.
There has been some level of criticism of Carrigan in his leadership roles.
In 2020, after his contract as city manager in Merced had been extended two years previously, Carrigan found himself, like hundreds of city managers throughout California, wrestling with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with state mandates from on high in Sacramento relating to health precautions, Carrigan complied, doing so without first verifying that the city council he was answerable to were on board with Governor Gavin Newsom’s approach. In particular then-Merced Mayor Mike Murphy felt the state and federal governments were being too dictatorial in their approach. Murphy and some of the other members of the city council believed Carrigan had erred in making automatic compliance with the state rules and that he should have been more forthcoming in letting the city council know what directions he was passing on from Sacramento to city staff. When Carrigan in the face of the council’s questioning of city expenditures to comply with those mandates persisted in making certain purchases of items meant to meet state mandates, he was let go as city manager in a 6-to-1 vote which did not officially cite cause. Statements by Murphy and other members of the council suggested they were dismayed by Carrigan’s assertion of his authority as city manager to declare a state of emergency in the city without first running it by them.
A member of the San Bernardino City Council told the Sentinel early this week that previous coverage in the Sentinel indicating that Carrigan was terminated in Merced in 2020 was inaccurate.
At the time of his hiring by Salinas in 2021, Carrigan made a commitment to remain as city manager, going so far as to move to the city and purchase a home there as a show of that commitment. Some have been critical of him for breaking that pledge. When his candidacy for city manager in San Bernardino made it beyond the third level of scrutiny in July, Carrigan informed the Salinas City Council of his application for the Southern California job. Most of the members of the Salinas City Council appear to be taking that in stride.
Treasure Ortiz, who vied for the San Bernardino City Council in the Third Ward in 2019, San Bernardino Mayor in 2022 and is in preparation for a run for city council in the Seventh Ward in 2024, said she believed the city council was selling the city short by settling for Carrigan as city manager.
“This is a very troublesome selection, given his withholding of information from the Merced City Council in 2020 and the nonchalant attitude of the city council that currently employs him about his pending leaving of Salinas to come here,” Ortiz said.

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