Del Mar enlists recruiting firm to find next city manager

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Del Mar residents will have a chance to weigh in on the search for a new city manager at the next City Council meeting on Sept. 9, when there will be a public comment period and council discussion on the process.

“If we do it right, it’s going to make all the difference in the world,” said City Councilman Dwight Worden, adding that a new city manager who lasts 10 years could end up being his biggest contribution to the city.

At their meeting earlier this month, council members approved an agreement with recruiting company Bob Murray & Associates, selected from a group of seven applicants. The city will pay a fixed fee of $24,900 and $7,400 for brochures, advertising, background checks, travel and related expenses, funded through the Human Resources portion of the city’s budget.

Current City Manager Scott Huth announced in June that he will retire in February 2020.

All five council members have met individually with the recruiters who are compiling a profile of what the ideal candidate would be, drafting the job announcement and taking additional steps in the recruitment process.

Worden said the next city manager should be “a good strategic thinker” to handle sea level rise, affordable housing and the other big issues facing the city.

“[Those issues are] just as important in Del Mar as San Diego, but we’ve got fewer resources and a smaller staff,” he said.

City Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland also said someone with experience dealing with the coastal and land-use issues would be preferable, in addition to being open-minded, tech-oriented, well-versed in how to run a city and a good team builder.

“I want a person who brings a certain vitality and energy to Del Mar,” she said.

Mayor Dave Druker said the candidate should “understand what the city of the future is going to look like.”

Huth has served as city manager since 2012. Over the last eight years, he’s overseen construction of the Civic Center, the Lifeguard Department’s headquarters at 17th Street, part of the River Path trail along the San Dieguito Lagoon, a wastewater pipeline to Solana Beach and reconstruction of the North Torrey Pines Road Bridge.

Huth said via email that he’s not involved in the hiring process. In a statement released when he announced his retirement, he said his successor should “work hard, love what you do, the people you work with, and the community you serve -- and leave the politics to others.”