John Pietig, top assistant to City Manager Ken Frank for more than 9 years, has been appointed to succeed his boss.
Pietig was selected from more than 100 applicants. The appointment was announced Thursday in a news release from Mayor Elizabeth Pearson, with the contract to be on the Nov. 16 council agenda.
"I am very thankful for this opportunity," Pietig said Thursday morning. "I am excited and so are my wife [Peggy] and children.
"When I first came here, it was a lateral career move, but it was to a special community and that was what we wanted."
Councilman Kelly Boyd, who will begin his new term in office under the second city manager he has helped hire, 31 years apart, said the Pietig family's involvement in the community was a major factor in his support for the appointment.
"John's kids go to school here and his wife works for SchoolPower," Boyd said.
Boyd expects the transition from Frank to Pietig to be smooth.
"John knows the management, the personnel and he knows who he is dealing with on the City Council," Boyd said.
One of the factors cited by voters for the incumbents in the recent council election was the desire for experience and continuity on the dais while the city's new top administrator tackles vital issues, such as negotiating with the police, fire and municipal employees unions.
Many people believe Frank groomed Pietig for the top job — assigning him to deal with some of the trickiest projects, including working with the California Coastal Commission on the construction of the lifeguard headquarters and replacement of the sewage lift station on Main Beach.
Pearson also highlighted Pietig's vital participation in keeping a critical-care hospital with 24-hour emergency service in town, which earned him the frequently expressed admiration of Councilwoman Jane Egly.
Pietig's other assignments included moving the city corporation yard to ACT; reconstructing Laguna's iconic Heisler Park; representing the city on the Task Force on Homelessness and establishing a temporary shelter on Laguna Canyon Road; and developing renovations for the Animal Shelter.
"Based on the things Ken has thrown at John in the last 9.5 years, I expect great things from him," Boyd said.
Before coming to Laguna, Pietig served for two years as deputy city manager in Alhambra. He had previously worked as budget director for 10 years in Riverside, a city with more than 2,500 employees and a budget of about $400 million.
"Laguna Beach has always been a special place for Peggy and me, going back to Peggy's mother, so when the opportunity for the job of assistant city manager came, we were happy to take it," Pietig said.
Pietig holds a master's degree in public administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Washington State University.
Born in Omaha, Neb., in 1966, John Pietig grew up in Washington where he had moved when he was 5.
John and Peggy Pietig were married in 1994. They have two sons, Danny, 13, an eighth-grader at Thurston Middle School, and Jacob, 11, a fifth-grader at Top of the World Elementary School.
Recruitment consultant Robert Murray was retained to coordinate the search for the city's new city manager. He assisted the council in screening candidates and in interviewing the most qualified applicants, filtered down to three.
Murray also helped the council in negotiating an employment contract with Pietig, which will be available for public review Nov. 10.