Longtime Ventura City Manager Rick Cole is stepping down, effective Sept. 15.
The news came Aug. 29 in separate statements from the City Council and Cole.
“During City Manager Rick Cole’s annual evaluation, it became clear that a majority of the City Council believes that it is time for a change in leadership,” the council said in its statement.
Cole offered to resign after its evaluation, the council said. His departure is subject to the terms of a severance package. The City Council is slated to name an interim city manager at its Sept. 10 meeting. It will then begin the search for a permanent hire.
Cole has been Ventura’s city manager since 2004 and has spent the last 30 years working in local government positions, previously at the city of Azusa.
“The Council recognizes Mr. Cole’s vision and dedication during his time as our City Manager and the many accomplishments during the past eight and a half years, notably the adoption and implementation of our General Plan and making the hard choices that have ensured Ventura has lived within our means during tough economic times,” Mayor Mike Tracy said in a statement.
Known as an advocate of so-called smart-growth and new urbanism policies, Cole was recruited to Ventura in 2004. He has been at the helm as major projects, including the mixed-use Sondermann-Ring project at the harbor, have moved through the approval process. The city also opened its Ventura Ventures Technology Center, a startup incubator, during his tenure.
When the recession hit, Cole found himself presiding over painful budget cuts and about 100 layoffs at City Hall.
“Mayor Mike Tracy and I agree on many things, but two stand out in this situation,” Cole wrote in his final blog post on the city’s website. “First, what’s good for Ventura comes first. Second, better to tell the truth, even if it is uncomfortable. I’m not leaving to spend more time with my family — although I’m looking forward to that. I’m not leaving to “pursue other opportunities,” although I’m excited about that too. I’m resigning because after eight and half years, the majority of the Council believe it is time for a change in leadership.”