San Bernardino Hires Montoya, Lately Of Arizona, As City Manager

Charles Montoya, who has formerly served as the city manager of Watsonville in California and was the town manager of Florence, Arizona and the city manager of Avondale, Arizona, will become San Bernardino city manager on October 30, according to a statement put out today by the City of San Bernardino on behalf of Mayor Helen Tran.
“Charles Montoya will be joining the council and me to accomplish the strategic goals and revitalization of San Bernardino that we are currently embarking on,” Tran was quoted as saying in the press release, which was mounted on the city’s website. “He shares our vision, shares our commitment, and has the skills to help us get there.”
“After thirty years of working with elected officials at all levels of government, I have found a final home in the City of San Bernardino,” said Montoya. “I truly look forward to working with the mayor and city council, and alongside the community, in continuing to make this city a place where people seek to live, work, and call home.”
Montoya’s municipal, state, and federal government experience, includes city manager stops in both California and Arizona. Most recently, he served for three and a half years as the city manager for the City of Avondale, Arizona in Maricopa County near Phoenix. Avondale, a city of approximately 90,000 residents, has seen tremendous residential growth in recent years.
Prior to his time in Avondale, Montoya served as the city manager of Watsonville from 2015 to 2018. He also served as the town manager in Florence, Arizona from January 2013 until July 2015. He was the finance director and treasurer with the Town of Castle Rock in Colorado from mid-2008 until the end of 2012.
Before that he was chief financial officer for Centennial, Colorado. He moved into the position in Centennial after working as the chief financial officer in Jefferson County, Colorado. He was an employee in the governor’s office in New Mexico. He also worked in the private sector, with National Mentor Inc., in New Mexico. He achieved the rank of lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve over a period of roughly a decade. He is the father of six children.
Raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Montoya, 53, attended West Mesa High. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration/management economics with a minor in math from New Mexico State University, a Master of Arts degree in public administration from the University of New Mexico, and a Master of Legal Studies degree from Arizona State University.
He does have a litigious past.
An outgrowth of his tenure as town manager in Florence was being named in a lawsuit brought against the town by two former police detectives.
Somewhat more disquieting is a $6.875 million lawsuit he brought against the City of Avondale over his 2021 firing, which was effectuated “for cause” by a unanimous vote of the city council. In the suit, Montoya alleged defamation of character after that city’s mayor, Kenn Weise, publicly laid out five reasons for Montoya’s firing, which included Montoya misleading city staff about living in Avondale, which is a requirement under the Avondale City Charter to be city manager; Montoya accepting vehicle reimbursements that were given to him in error and failing to pay back the city; Montoya taking excessive tuition reimbursements without proper documentation; Montoya directing staff to pay funds that were not included in his employment agreement; and Montoya taking a loan out against his retirement account and failing to make timely payments on the loan.
In his suit, Montoya accused the city, Weise and Vice Mayor Veronica Malone of violating his employment agreement and that his firing was in large measure driven by Weise’s and Malone’s animus toward him because he did not provide preferential treatment to their children who were seeking employment with the city, and that Weise pressured Montoya to direct city staff to hire Weise’s daughter’s betrothed as a firefighter with the city fire department. Moreover, according to the lawsuit, the city did not give Montoya an adequate opportunity to correct the violations/improprieties he was alleged to have engaged in.
The announcement of Montoya’s intended hiring put out by the city downplayed any concern about the issues at play in the lawsuit, including the stated grounds for Montoya’s firing by Avondale.
“Mr. Montoya was selected after a nationwide recruitment process… to manage and lead San Bernardino into the future,” the announcement states. “We have fully vetted his background and are confident that he has the strength and character to lead San Bernardino. He has demonstrated in the past that he will stand up and do the right thing for himself and his community. Charles Montoya is exactly the type of leader we need.”
Mayor Tran enunciated confidence in him
“Charles Montoya will be joining the council and me to accomplish the strategic goals and revitalization of San Bernardino that we are currently embarking on,” Tran was quoted as saying. “He shares our vision, shares our commitment, and has the skills to help us get there.”
According to the city, Tran and the seven other members of the city council will consider the employment agreement with Montoya at the Wednesday, October 18 city council meeting. If a majority of the eight approve the contract, Montoya will begin his stewardship of the city on Monday, October 30. “I am confident the council will take action on October 18 and that everyone will welcome Mr. Montoya and support him,” added Tran.
-Mark Gutglueck

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