Some might say there are big shoes to fill in Burbank over the upcoming months.
City Manager Ron Davis announced on Wednesday he will be retiring after spending 20 years with the city — 17 years as the general manager of Burbank Water and Power and a little more than three years as Burbank’s top employee, according to city officials.
As of Wednesday, Justin Hess, assistant city manager, became the acting city manager and Judie Wilke, parks and recreation director, was appointed as the acting assistant city manager.
An acting parks and recreation director has yet to be named.
Davis, whose last day with the city will be Sept. 30, was on vacation for the remainder of this week and could not be reached.
Hess said on Thursday he’s honored to take the city manager’s post and continue the work his colleague set out to accomplish.
He said he hopes to stay in this leadership role for as long as the City Council sees fit.
“I’ve been with the city for a little over 22 years now and I’ve been assistant city manager for the last six, so for me I think it’s going to be a good natural fit,” he said.
“It’s a good opportunity for me, and I’m excited to continue working with the [City] Council, the staff and community to hopefully do a lot of good for the city,” he added.
Before taking the helm managing Burbank, Davis helped save the city-owned utility from near financial ruin, Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said.
“He really worked with staff and brought them along to greater positions of accountability, ownership and innovation,” she said.
“He has always been a mentor to people working with him, and if you talk to anyone that worked for him, it was more like they worked with him,” she added.
The mayor said she also appreciated Davis’ willingness to learn, his collaborative spirit and knowing when to be firm with a decision.
Although Davis has helped the city with its financial issues, Gabel-Luddy said there is still more work that needs to be done, and the outgoing city manager will still help as he transitions into retirement.
“Ron isn’t going to disappear,” she said. “For a man that’s worked since the age of 13, you know that he can’t quit. It’s in his constitution to be deeply committed to improvement.”