Newly appointed City Manager Mary Alvord swears by her hometown --
she officially took the oath of office at Tuesday’s City Council
meeting before a council chamber packed with city, civic and business
leaders who gave her a standing ovation.
She replaces former City Manager Bud Ovrom, who began work March 1
as the head of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.
Since her appointment as interim city manager, Alvord already has
noticed a difference in how she thinks.
“If the wind is blowing, I’m thinking about power and trees,”
Alvord said. “When I heard war was breaking out, I started to think,
‘What are we doing?’”
Managing the city means “you’ve got to stay in the game all the
time,” she said, and requires that she tap into intuitive and
analytic skills. The role is one Alvord is finding she enjoys.
Her appointment to the $12,650-per-month post was unanimously
approved by the council Tuesday.
A great deal of consideration was given to the prospect of
conducting an outside search to replace Ovrom versus filling the
position internally, but council members said they decided Alvord was
the best choice.
“She has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge about our
city ... and the executive team is filled with people that balance
her own skills set,” Councilwoman Marsha Ramos said. “I’ve watched
her firsthand to see how she works with people, she has got such
strong people skills.”
Answering critics who suggest an outsider might have brought fresh
insights to the city, Ramos said that might be something for Alvord
to consider when it comes time to choose an assistant city manager.
Former police chief Dave Newsham was appointed interim assistant city
manager March 12 for a period not to exceed six months.
Council members took Alvord’s qualificiations into consideration
in reaching their decision.
“She doesn’t have a strong background in finance, and we are going
into a severe budget crisis,” Vice Mayor Stacey Murphy said.
But Ramos disagreed, citing Alvord’s experience running the Parks
and Recreation Department, the department with the third largest
budget in the city, according to department director Mike Flad, where
“she certainly had to manage budgets.”
Even with doubts, Murphy approved the appointment because of
Alvord’s familiarity with the unique nature of the city, which has
its own airport and municipal utility, Murphy said.
When asked if the fact Alvord has the full support of the
executive team meant department heads were picking the city manager
rather than the council, Ramos and Murphy said the executives’
opinions were a factor, but the council was responsible for the
Along with delivering a balanced budget to the council, Alvord’s
goals include working to secure grant funds to build a new central
library as soon as 2006, and completing the South San Fernando Park
Project, she said.