Council expects to look outside for next Merced city manager

Merced has begun its search for a replacement for City Manager John Bramble; he is set to retire in December.
Merced has begun its search for a replacement for City Manager John Bramble; he is set to retire in December. akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

Two Merced councilmen said this week the city needs to hire a new top administrator from outside of City Hall.

The firm hired to recruit a city manager in Merced recently posted the position on its job search page, where prospective city leaders can submit an application.

City Manager John Bramble announced this summer he intends to retire Dec. 5. His contract was due to be up this year.

Councilman Mike Murphy said the city has some important developments on its horizon, like the growth of UC Merced, downtown revitalization and improving public safety. That development makes finding the right person for the job particularity important.

“I think it’s important to go outside our region for our recruitment and attract the best applicants to the interview process,” he said. “We’re looking for an experienced and dynamic, forward-thinking city manager.”

A brochure for the position, which is being recruited by Bob Murray & Associates, touts the city’s attributes and the benefits that come along with the city manager job.

The brochure says the salary of the new city manager will be based on his or her qualifications. Bramble makes $175,086, according to Merced’s salary schedule.

Mayor Pro Tem Josh Pedrozo noted that the application process is open to anyone, including department heads in Merced. But, he said, the City Council needs to change direction.

“I just think the next city manager for the city of Merced should be somebody from the outside to take a different view of what we do as a city,” he said.

The job listing is set to expire on Oct. 16, and will be advertised in a few other publications, according to city staff. A League of California Cities conference at the end of September will also give the city a chance to recruit.

Hired in October 2008, Bramble has been a public employee for 45 years.

Bramble, 69, said he expects to do some part-time work after he retires. He said he will likely serve as an interim city manager or department head for other cities looking for a full-time replacement.

But, he said, he does not intend to go to work full-time after retiring.

Bramble said he has not recommended anyone for the position, and would give his opinion only if asked by the council. “It’s pretty doubtful that I would have any input into the process,” he said.

Citing personnel issues, Mayor Stan Thurston declined to comment on hiring from within or outside City Hall.

He noted that the process is just beginning.

“We expect someone to come with a very broad depth of experience in a whole lot of different areas,” he said. “Let’s hope we can find one.”

Thaddeus Miller: 209-385-2453, @thaddeusmiller