New Anaheim City Councilwoman to Quit OCTA for Contractor Post

Newly-elected Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray is quitting her job as the Orange County Transportation Authority's lobbyist manager "in the best interests" of the agency, she said Friday.

Murray will join Anaheim-based Willdan, a company that contracts with government agencies to perform engineering and other services.

Murray, OCTA's executive director of government relations, oversees the work of the agency's lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington. She said her new position as Willdan's senior vice president for business development and government affairs won't include working with lobbyists.

Murray said her resignation, effective at the end of the year, is "a positive development for me and, I think, in the best interests of OCTA."

She said as she moves into her new "high-profile position" as an elected official, it is better to work for a private company.

Her decision, she said, had nothing to do with the California attorney general's opinion issued recently that said outgoing Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle had an "incompatible offices" conflict in which his duties as mayor clashed with his role as chairman of the state's High-Speed Rail Authority and his membership on the board of OCTA.

Murray said she won't be seeking a seat on the OCTA board although the agency "does a lot of good work and I'd like to see them get a lot more credit for it, frankly."

Willdan has a small contract with OCTA, she said, but she met the corporate leaders several years ago when she worked for the Orange County Business Council, and it was those contacts that led to her job.

Willdan and its executives also donated nearly $4,000 to her city council campaign. In the past, the firm has been a major donor to California political candidates and causes, giving about $120,000 in 2006 to Republicans, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Democrats.

According to the company's website, it contracts with cities, public utilities and other government agencies to provide civil engineering, building and safety, geotechnical engineering, energy efficiency, water conservation, and other services.

Murray also serves as Anaheim's representative on the Metropolitan Water District board and, when she is sworn in today, will resign as a member of the city's public utilities board.

-- TRACY WOOD

 

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