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Council Taps Former City Manager to Find Candidate for Top Post

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By Jorge Casuso

February 12, 2021 -- Former City manager Lamont Ewell -- who helped steer Santa Monica through the Great Recession -- will lead the search for a new City manager to help the city recover from the coronavirus shutdown.

The City Council on Tuesday chose Ewell, who served as City manager from January 2006 to December 2009, to find a candidate to replace Interim City Manager Lane Dilg ("City Attorney Lane Dilg Tapped to Run Santa Monica During Historic Crisis," April 18, 2020).

Dilg has held the top post on an interim basis since April. In December she announced she would step down in spring to relocate for public service outside Santa Monica ("Dilg to Leave City Manager Post," December 14, 2020).

A senior consultant with Ralph Andersen & Associates, Ewell "has over 35 years of experience in the public sector and possesses a unique blend of expertise," according to the executive search and consulting firm.

"Lamont was a really good City manager and someone who was really accessible to all residents," said Councilmember Phil Brock, who joined in the unanimous vote.

"He knows our City," Brock said. "He knows the players. I think he is a wonderful choice."

Ewell was recommended by Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Oscar de la Torre, the members of an ad hoc committee that interviewed a total of four executive search firms.

The committee recommended Ralph Andersen & Associates for "their rigorous background checking capacity" and knowledge of the field, said Councilmember Gleam Davis.

The firm will recommend a short list of candidates, Davis said.

"The final decision rests solely with the City Council," she said.

According to Dilg, the contract with Anderson is under negotiation but will likely be between $35,000 and $45,000, lower than the amount requiring City Council approval.

According the Ralph Andersen & Associates website, Ewell recently joined the firm "to focus on key executive level positions for local government."

After retiring from his post in Santa Monica, Ewell served as interim City manager for the cities of Culver City, Oakland and Compton.

"He succeeded in assisting each of these cities in navigating through challenging financial times," according to his profile on the firm's site.

Hiring a City manager will be one of the major decisions the new City Council will face.

Three of the newly elected members -- Brock, de la Torre and Christine Parra -- have been steering the City in a new direction since taking office in December.

Councilmember Kristin McCowan was appointed to the Council in July and reelected for two years in November.

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