Ramos gets solid support for City Manager position

Claremont City Manager Jeff Parker is resigning from his post in the City of Trees.  Mr. Parker will take over as Tustin’s city manager after a unanimous vote Tuesday night. His last day is set for December 26, and he has recommended moving current Assistant City Manager Tony Ramos to the top position.

“There is no doubt I will miss a lot of people in this town,” Mr. Parker said. “There is a sense of passion here, and I have enjoyed working in a community with citizens that really care. It has taught me a lot about how to deal with that, how to be transparent…those are things I can take on to the next community. I think Claremont should be really proud of that.”

Recruiters for Tustin approached Mr. Parker in late September. A former Orange County resident himself, he was drawn to the city on both a personal and professional level.

“There is a certain sense of comfort level there,” Mr. Parker reflected.

He added that he looks forward to moving from his current Chino Hills home to a location more convenient for both him and his wife, who currently works in Anaheim.

“After 8 to 10 years of making the drive it will take a little stress off that level of our lives,” he said.

Professionally, Mr. Parker is eager to work in a city similar to Claremont, but with a much broader scope.

 “[Tustin] has its own police department and county fire district, public works…so the structure is a lot like ours, but the organization is a lot bigger,” Mr. Parker explained. “I enjoy organizing, managing and also mentoring people, and it gives me the opportunity to do that.”

Mr. Parker particularly looks forward to working with the Tustin Legacy, a 1600-acre development planned for the city’s former Marine base, which will include parks, housing and other commercial development.  

“It’s a pretty significant development project, and it gives me the opportunity to work with redevelopment, which I enjoy doing,” Mr. Parker said.

As Claremont’s city manager since 2005, Mr. Parker says working through the limitations of the recession has been his greatest learning lesson.

“Dealing with the financial constraints and trying to meet the requests of the citizens for high-level services has been a challenge,” Mr. Parker said. “It’s a challenge whenever you have to cut millions of dollars out of your budget, eliminate positions and at the same time turn around and listen to the community. It has taught me how to move forward and progress despite dealing with less resources.”

City council will discuss replacing Mr. Parker at city workshops taking place at city hall this Saturday. Suggestions have been made to hire from within the city’s ranks with Mr. Ramos as his top candidate for replacement.

“He is a perfect fit for this community,” Mr. Parker said. “The economic development we have done in this city…he has been the lead person on it step by step, and has been the leader in our negotiations. His ability to follow through and communicate in getting information and problem solving is outstanding.”

Mr. Ramos is the “natural candidate,” according to Mayor Sam Pedroza.

“Tony’s knowledge of how decisions get made in this city is perhaps the single most important issue,” Mr. Pedroza said. “Decision making can be a difficult process, but Tony has really embraced it.”

Council would not comment on Mr. Ramos’ personal bankruptcy filing last March or how it might affect his ability to exercise fiscal responsibility as potential city manager. Councilmember Opanyi Nasiali would only state that “bankruptcy is a personal matter, but I don’t see that as having to be intermingled.”

Mr. Ramos said he would be honored to be Claremont’s next city manager.

“It’s a great organization and a great community. I’m very involved in this community from the school to my professional life. Ultimately the decision is up to the city council. They are aware of my interest so therefore I will leave it in their hands.”

According to Mr. Pedroza, Claremont will miss Mr. Parker’s “big picture approach,” to the city’s economic hardships.

“He has helped the city go through some pretty difficult times and really helped bring well thought out solutions to some long-term projects,” Mr. Pedroza said, “but he knows that he has a good team built up in this city that will be able to move up and move forward.”

—Beth Hartnett

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