Ventura County

Oxnard Residents Upset with City Manager Hiring Process

Oxnard Residents Upset with City Manager Hiring Process

OXNARD, Calif. - The search for a new Oxnard city manager is almost over, but dozens of Oxnard residents aren't happy about it.

More than 150 people attended a special Oxnard City Council meeting Wednesday night, to meet the two finalist for Oxnard city manager.  Instead of a friendly meet and greet, about a dozen Oxnard residents stood and sounded off to the Oxnard city council.

"We need to restore the honesty and integrity of the leadership of this city, and the best way you can do that now is by starting with a clean slate, " said one Oxnard resident.

The city has had not had a permanent city manager since Ed Sotelo was placed on leave in January 2012 amidst a public corruption investigation.

While some residents are urging the City Council to make a quick decision, others say the council has made major mistakes in its hiring process.

"Mayor if these two candidates are the best, I am stunned.  I urge you to not make a decision tonight.  The council needs to go back to the drawing board and truly find the best city manager for our city of Oxnard," said a concerned Oxnard resident.

Members of the NAACP claim the hiring process for Oxnard city manager has been racist. 

"The system that they put together was racist, and they talked about it half of the time they were here so it meant a lot to these people here," John R. Hatcher III, NAACP Ventura County

The racist allegations come after interim city manager Karen Burnham, an African-American, was not granted an interview for the job.

"She did not get an opportunity for an interview not even a token interview and yet you found that she was good enough to be the interim going into her third year, but she was kicked to the curb when it came to her having the full-time job," said the Rev. Ralph James.

Even with all the controversy the council plans to move on with its two finalists: Greg Nyhoff, the current city manager of Modesto, and Chandra Walllar, former chief executive of Santa Barbara County.

"I think I am a great fit for Oxnard a lot of the things Modesto faces are here. And then, how can you beat the ocean?" said Nyhoff. 

"Oxnard has an opportunity to continue to grow and be successful, what manager wouldn't want to be a part of that?" said Wallar.

A final decision is expected in the upcoming months.

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