Three years after the Rohnert Park City Council hired Gabriel Gonzalez to be their sixth city manager in five years, Gonzalez is leaving for the same post in Augusta, Kansas, a move to be closer to his daughter, who is expecting Gonzalez’s first grandchild.
“I’m really fortunate to have found a position that allows me to move closer to my family,” Gonzalez said. “It’s another great community and I’m excited to be a part of it, and I’m thrilled to be able to move near my daughter – it’s a lot easier for me to relocate than for her to.”
Gonzalez’s daughter attends Wichita State University, which is about 30 minutes from Augusta, and she’s lived in that area for about 18 years.
The move comes at a cost for Gonzalez, who leaves a $165,000-a-year job for one for one that pays $100,000, though he heads to an area with a far lower cost of living.
Gonzalez’s last day at City Hall is Nov. 7, just six days after the opening of the $800 million Graton Resort & Casino, the biggest development project in recent Rohnert Park history. He informed Mayor Pam Stafford of his decision last week. Deputy City Manager Darren Jenkins will serve as the interim city manager until Gonzalez’s replacement is hired.
At its Sept. 19 meeting, the Augusta City Council unanimously approved picking the 43-year-old Gonzalez from among the 45 applicants for the job.
“Gabe has all the qualities we were looking for in our next city manager – evidence of strong fiscal leadership, a customer-service oriented philosophy, and the professional and educational experience that most aligns with Augusta’s needs,” Mayor Kristey Williams said in a statement.
“One major factor that attracted me to Augusta was its quality of life features and amenities,” Gonzalez said. “I am basically going from one great city to another great city which offers an outstanding quality of life for its residents.”
The Rohnert Park City Council hired Gonzalez, a native of Santa Cruz, in August 2010. He previously served as city manager for six years in the small Central Valley town of Mendota.
Gonzalez inherited a city that was attempting to stave off a financial collapse. He helped develop and implement a 10-year recovery plan that included layoffs, furloughs and the passage – and proposed extension – of a sales tax hike to maintain city services and reduce the city’s current $1.4 million deficit.
“I’m pleased to have had a great team and city council and community to help us stabilize a city on the verge of bankruptcy,” Gonzalez said of his tenure in Rohnert Park. “We’ve come a long way. I was just one piece of the puzzle.”
Gonzalez’s departure comes on the heels of city finance director Cathy Orme’s move to Larkspur.