New F.V. city manager is the guy next door

The Fountain Valley City Council unanimously chose Robert Hall to be its next city manager.

City staff conducted a nationwide search to hire the best person and ended up finding him right next door, in Huntington Beach's City Hall.

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Vo said the city received more than 70 applications and whittled it down to four candidates. The city found one after six months of looking and he happened to be the assistant city manager in its neighboring city.

"I'm excited about the opportunity," Hall said. "I truly do look forward to the challenges that are there. I'm very flattered and appreciative that they selected me."

Hall was picked by the council Tuesday to take over for outgoing City Manager Raymond Kromer. Hall is slated to begin his new position Aug. 19.

"He has a good understanding of development and the budget and that's something that we take a strong pride in," Councilman Steve Nagel said. "He's worked with fire and police. When he first was with Huntington Beach, one of his first tasks was labor negotiations. We felt like that was being thrown into the fire and he was able to handle that."

Hall, who has worked in Huntington Beach for almost eight years, is replacing Kromer, who retired from his position in December 2012. Kromer continued working on an interim basis while the city looked for a replacement, according to a city statement.

"[Hall's] got a hard act to follow. [Kromer] was with us for 28 years and did a terrific job for us and I don't think we could have had a better city manager," Nagel said. "[Hall's] got a tough road to emulate [Kromer] but we feel that he's got the ability."

Nagel and other council members were particularly impressed with Hall's experience with the city of Riverside — where his last job was general services director — having worked his way from the bottom to the top, Nagel said.

"That says a lot not only about his character, but his work ethic," he said. "He comes with high marks from everyone that we've referenced."

The idea of taking on the bigger role of city manager had been looming in Hall's mind for the past few years, he said.

Having a daughter who attends Huntington Beach High School, location was a key factor for him to decide which city he should apply. He couldn't have asked for a better city when he heard that Fountain Valley was going to have an open position.

"Moving into the next level as city manager, moving to a little bit smaller city but yet being full service, is almost perfect," Hall said. "It is perfect. It's an ideal situation."

He said he's ready for the job and credits his colleagues at Huntington Beach for giving him the experience and skills to enter this new chapter in his career.

"I've had a great eight years in Huntington Beach. These have been the best years of my career. No question about it," Hall said.

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