New assistant city manager is jack of all trades

Huntington Beach's new assistant city manager is bringing a range of expertise to the position.

Ken Domer, who has held a similar position in Placentia, believes that his ability to oversee multiple departments — such as economic development and planning and building — played into his getting the job. He also was tapped to take on the role of development services director in Placentia because of cuts in staffing.

After looking at about 150 candidates, Huntington Beach City Manager Fred Wilson said Domer's overall experience in economic development helped seal the deal.

"He was the most well-rounded. He had economic development experience and just seemed to be the right fit for this organization," Wilson said. "He's kind of the complete package out of all the candidates we looked at."

Domer, 43, will begin the job with Huntington Beach on Oct. 14. He replaces Robert Hall, who was with the city for eight years before being hired as Fountain Valley's city manager in June.

Placentia has struggled with financial challenges even before the recession, said Domer, who had been with the city for almost five years. As a result, the city had to downsize and more was put on his plate.

"It's just one of those positions where as the city has coped with its fiscal challenges, you just take up new responsibilities and try to get the job done," he said.

Domer had the challenge of trying to get that city on somewhat solid financial footing every year.

"It's been a roller coaster since Day One," he said.

Huntington Beach and Placentia are very different, Domer noted. Surf City is known as a destination spot that attracts thousands of tourists each year, while Placentia was planned as sort of a bedroom community, he said.

"There's not a lot of commercial areas and they do have some freeways, but there's no real destination," Domer said. "Believe it or not, Placentia does not have a Starbucks. They are probably one of the only cities that does not have any type of coffee chain — no Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, no Peet's Coffee and Tea — and it's a town of 50,000 people."

Domer will have to hit the ground running come October. He will be involved in city labor negotiations and several development projects.

"I'm starting to do little bits here and there, and people are already starting to contact me about this and that," he said. "There's going to be a lot of information for me in the first three to six months. It's going to be a very busy time, but it's like being a kid in a candy shop. I really enjoy all of this."

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