The Livingston City Council unanimously hired its next city manager Tuesday. A Sun-Star review of public records shows he filed for bankruptcy and was charged with a felony about a decade ago.
It remains unclear exactly what the council members knew about Eddie Duque’s past or what process was used to vet the 20 applications they reviewed for the position.
Duque, 48, a senior management analyst in the Finance and Management Services department in Santa Ana, agreed to a three-year contract of $140,000 annually, plus car, telephone and insurance benefits, according to a copy of the contract.
Court records show he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2004. He was also charged with corporal spousal abuse after an incident in 2002, court documents show.
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Duque, in a telephone interview with the Sun-Star late Wednesday, confirmed he pleaded no contest to a reduced misdemeanor domestic violence charge in the case in Los Angeles County more than a decade ago.
He described the incident as stemming from a tumultuous relationship with his wife at the time and said he wasn’t able to afford a defense attorney. “I didn’t have money to defend myself even if I wanted to at that point in time,” he said.
Since then, he said, he’s been an advocate for prevention of domestic violence, and for the victims recovering from family violence, giving public presentations for children and adults.
“That wasn’t anything mandated,” he said. “I want to be clear about that.”
$140,000Annual compensation contracted for incoming Livingston City Manager Eddie Duque
Duque also confirmed filing for bankruptcy in 2004. “My wife lost her job, we had to pay debts,” he said. “When half your income basically disappears with a layoff, it’s something that’s extremely painful.”
He noted he completed his bankruptcy obligations. The case was cleared in 2010, according to court documents.
Duque said he does not expect any of new information uncovered by the Sun-Star to affect his employment with the city.
Mayor Pro-Tem Gurpal Samra said he was not aware of either Duque’s criminal conviction or bankruptcy filing, saying the court records were not included in the copy of the report he received from William Avery & Associate Inc., the Los Gatos-based consulting firm hired by the council to conduct the search.
It was not clear Wednesday how much the firm was paid to vet the job candidates.
Samra said news of the conviction and bankruptcy did not change his opinion of the decision to hire Duque. He pointed to the time that has passed since the bankruptcy, noting that Duque has been employed publicly since the bankruptcy.
“When you do public finance, things are a little different,” he said. “You’re not the only person there, either. I still don’t have any reservations.”
Councilman Alex McCabe, who has been on the council for a month, would neither confirm nor deny knowledge of the court records. He said Duque’s 16 years of public employment spoke to his qualifications for the city’s top administrator job.
Duque also holds a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a master’s from Harvard, according to city records.
The council approved his contract with a 4-0 vote Tuesday. Councilman Jim Soria was absent.
Duque was the council’s “first choice,” according to City Attorney Jose Sanchez.
Duque made an unsuccessful bid this year to be elected as city treasurer in Carson.
Duque replaces Jose Ramirez, who resigned on Jan. 31 and earned $122,000 per year. Odi Ortiz has served as interim city manager since February.
Duque is set to go to work in Livingston on Sept. 30. “I’m looking forward to coming to the city (and) working with the council to expand the quality of life in the city,” he said Tuesday.
While speaking to the council Tuesday, he said he is the child of immigrant agricultural workers. “I understand this community in a way that’s probably unique,” he said.
Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza could not be reached for comment by phone.
Modesto Bee research specialist Karen Aiello contributed to this report.