After more than a decade of helping to lead one of Orange County’s largest cities, Huntington Beach City Manager Fred Wilson announced Friday that he plans to step down. His last day at City Hall is May 10.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” Wilson said in an interview Friday. “I recently turned 60 and I thought if I’m going to make another move, now is the time to do it.”
Wilson said he has accepted a job with Ralph Andersen & Associates, an executive search firm for public sector agencies, where he said he’ll do work similar to what he did for the city.
His new venture will end more than two decades of work in public service.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” Wilson said. “I love this town, love working here. Will I miss it? Of course I will. But [it’s] an opportunity to make a change in a career.”
Wilson has been Huntington Beach’s city manager since 2008. Before that, he was city manager and assistant city administrator for the city of San Bernardino for 17 years collectively, according to his LinkedIn account.
The Huntington Beach City Council will discuss appointing an interim city manager at a future closed meeting.
Mayor Erik Peterson said Friday that Wilson is talented in finding and recruiting “good executives” for the city. The skill will serve him well in his next chapter, Peterson added.
“He’s got some good people onboard,” Peterson said, listing leaders such as Police Chief Robert Handy, Fire Chief David Segura and Assistant City Manager Lori Ann Farrell.
Councilwoman Jill Hardy credited Wilson for guiding the city through difficult times, especially in 2008 during the recession.
“We were fortunate enough to have him lead our city for the past 10 years,” Hardy said in a statement. “I am sad to hear he is leaving and will miss his strong leadership skills, humility and attention to detail.”
During Wilson’s tenure, he oversaw a $350-million budget and nearly 1,200 employees in 13 departments. The city ranked fourth in a nationwide Fiscal Times poll of cities in “best financial shape” and was ranked 14th by WalletHub among “best-run cities,” according to a news release.
Wilson still will be based in Huntington Beach but said he will miss “working in different communities and having a hand in how it evolves.”
He listed among his most memorable achievements leading the construction of the Senior Center in Central Park, completion of the Pacific City commercial center, expansion of the Waterfront Beach Resort on Pacific Coast Highway and annexation of Sunset Beach.
Huntington Beach “blossomed in many ways with development along PCH, and I’ve had a hand in all of those great projects,” he said. “What I’ll miss most is driving around town and saying, ‘I helped make that happen.’”