The Santa Ana City Council is unanimously backing the hiring of David Cavazos, currently Phoenix city manager, as Santa Ana’s chief bureaucrat with an employment package up for a vote at Monday night’s council meeting, according to a city news release.
If the employment package is approved, Cavazos will take over as city manager in mid-October, the news release stated.
“David’s stellar performance and success in Phoenix is well documented and we are very grateful that he has agreed to lend his experience and expertise to help guide Santa Ana to a wonderful future,” said Mayor Miguel Pulido, according to the news release.
Cavazos’ appointment comes after a tumultuous period for the city’s leadership.
After longtime former City Manager Dave Ream retired in 2011, council members and Pulido haggled behind closed doors for months regarding his replacement. They eventually settled on former Police Chief Paul Walters, Pulido’s preferred candidate, after Pulido lined up enough votes to make the appointment.
However, after Walters was credited with pulling the city from the brink of bankruptcy, council members grew increasingly unhappy with their decision to back Pulido’s candidate. A struggle between the council majority and Pulido for power over the city’s bureaucracy ensued, with the majority finally ousting Walters earlier this year.
The council then appointed interim City Manager Kevin O’Rourke while it launched a nationwide search for a permanent replacement for Walters.
According to the news release, Cavazos stood out in a pool of 64 applicants, because of his experience as city manager in Phoenix, a city of 1.5 million people and the largest to retain the council-manager form of government. Phoenix has the same governing structure as Santa Ana, in which the city manager administers the city bureaucracy while the council sets policy.
Cavazos, 53, is also the first Latino to hold the top post in Santa Ana. He also became the first Hispanic to be Phoenix city manager in 2009 after joining the city in 1987 as a management intern and climbing through the ranks, according to the announcement.
He is credited with trimming the Phoenix budget, streamlining its business permit process and and helping to revitalize the Phoenix downtown, according to the news release.