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* Los Alamitos City Manager Robert DominguezRobert...

* Los Alamitos City Manager Robert Dominguez

Robert Dominguez, 50, began work this week as Los Alamitos’ city manager. A 40-year resident of Long Beach, he holds a master’s degree in public administration from Cal State Long Beach, where he is a part-time professor. He has worked in city government for 20 years and came to Los Alamitos from Rancho Cucamonga, where he was administrative services director for 3 1/2 years. He will be paid an annual salary of $90,000 in his new position. Dominguez spoke with Times correspondent Lori Haycox about his goals and his observations so far.

Q: What is your perception of Los Alamitos?

A: The image I have, and the one I want people to gain, is that Los Alamitos may be one of the best-kept secrets of west Orange County. It has terrific attributes. It is easily accessible to Los Angeles, three airports and two freeways. It has all of those nice qualities people think about in south Orange County: good homes, good schools . . . . And it’s ideal for people who commute to L.A. You can’t get much closer to Los Angeles County without actually living in L.A.

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Q: What will be your top priority?

A: My challenge is to successfully put into place an economic development plan. The city is fine now, but we do need to make sure we have financial security for the future. We need to attract new businesses. There’s some good businesses and industries in town. I’d like to know why they are here and what makes them successful. You can learn a lot from what’s already out there rather than reinvent the wheel . . . . The city has a community development director position open, and I hope to hire someone who is business-minded and can help with this task.

Q: What is your leadership style?

A: I’d like to think I lead by example. I lived 60 miles away, but I was usually first person to arrive at [Rancho Cucamonga] City Hall every day. If there is a need to work late to complete a project, I’ll be here, not tell my staff to get it done and then leave. I try to be as open as possible. If a resident wants to talk to the city manager, then the city manager should speak to him. The same holds true for staff. Anyone from a maintenance worker to a department head to a City Council member can walk in here any time to talk to me.

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Q: What do you like about being a public official?

A: It’s a new scene every day. There’s so much to do . . . . I’d be bored stiff if I walked in every day and knew what I was going to be doing from 8 to 5.

Q: How do you spend your free time?

A: I enjoy running. I like to ski . . . . I also like to backpack and I’m a car enthusiast. And I’ve been a season-ticket holder for Cal State Long Beach basketball for 20 years.

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