Gilroy City Administrator Gabriel Gonzalez submitted his resignation letter to the city council Feb. 19 after four years on the job.
His last day is March 13, and he will begin his new position as city manager for the City of Shafter on March 19.
In an email to the council, Gonzalez wrote, “I have a career opportunity that I have decided to accept.”
“It has been an honor to have led our organization for the past four years,” he wrote in the resignation letter. “We have a great organization comprised of stellar employees who are committed and dedicated to providing outstanding service. I am proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved.”
Gonzalez said he will develop a transition plan for his successor, and plans to “make myself available to that person should they have questions or need for background information regarding any one of the many projects currently underway.”
In an interview with the Dispatch, Gonzalez said he was contacted by a recruiting firm hired by Shafter for the position. The move to the city, which is located in the Central Valley just north of Bakersfield, is an “opportunity for me to return to my second home,” he said. Gonzalez began his career in the public sector as the finance director for the nearby City of Arvin in 1995, having served there for six years.
“Having spent the better part of my career in the Central Valley, I developed some very good friendships and some very close family friends,” he said.
Gonzalez gave credit to the city’s employees and the city council for their service to Gilroy, saying “we are overall a better community today” because of it.
“I’m very proud of the team of employees that I was able to manage and lead,” he said. “We have outstanding employees who are dedicated to the city and provide great service to our residents.”
Gonzalez pointed to a successful lobbying effort in Sacramento in 2017 that resulted in $14 million in funds to repave First Street, which he called a “huge accomplishment.” While the project has been delayed to the fall, Gonzalez said having the funding is a major step forward for a project that historically didn’t have any.
“I don’t think there’s a single resident in the community that doesn’t travel on First Street,” he said.
He also added that during his tenure in Gilroy, the city has made efforts to improve downtown, such as offering grants to businesses to improve their facades, and reducing city-imposed engineering, planning and building fees.
The Shafter City Council, on a 4-1 vote, agreed to hire Gonzalez on Feb. 18. According to the contract, Gonzalez will be paid an annual salary of $215,000, down from his current $245,648 in Gilroy.
He inherits a position left open by previous City Manager Scott Hurlbert, who resigned abruptly in August, according to an article in The Shafter Press. U.S. Census Bureau data estimates Shafter’s population at roughly 20,000.
The Gilroy City Council will meet in closed session following Monday’s meeting to discuss next steps, including determining an interim city administrator, Mayor Roland Velasco said.
Velasco said he respected Gonzalez’s decision, and added that he didn’t want to “stand in the way” of his career opportunities.
“I appreciate his time here and his overall assessment of the city when he first came in,” said Velasco, who announced in January that he would not be seeking another term as mayor in the November election. “In a lot of ways he helped move the city forward. He showed tremendous leadership during the Garlic Festival incident that took a strain on a lot of city staff.”
The Gilroy City Council hired Gonzalez as city administrator in March 2016 at a starting salary of $210,000. In August, a split council voted to give Gonzalez a raise to $245,648, up from his previous annual pay of $227,136.
Gonzalez, a CSU-Fresno graduate and Santa Cruz native, was the city manager of Rohnert Park from 2010-2013, then worked as city manager for the town of Augusta, Kans. for five months before resigning.
Back in California, he was the interim finance director for the City of El Monte for five months before moving up to assistant city manager there, where he remained for a year.
Before accepting the Gilroy position, he was a management consultant for Management Partners, a national consulting firm.