CALEXICO – Armando Villa was announced Calexico’s new city manager on June 8, during the regular council meeting where the votes were 3-2 with Mayor Joong Kim and Councilwoman Martiza Hurtado voting against Villa’s hiring.
Villa, is currently employed with the County of Imperial as assistant chief executive officer and is scheduled to commence employment with the city of Calexico on June 22.
Opposing Mayor Kim expressed his dissatisfaction claiming he was not part of the hiring process.
“We are working very hard to stabilize the city (Calexico) and to show transparency, and Mr. Villa’s hiring was done by three persons only (councilmembers Armando Real, Luis Castro and John Moreno) . This is a violation of the Brown Act and I don’t trust this.”
According to Councilman Armando Real, Villa applied for the position and came to an agreement on contract terms and pay with council that will be released at a later time.
Subsequent to the announcement Councilwoman Hurtado issued the following statement:
“We had a change in city management last night. The council voted to hire Armando Villa. Although I graduated with this candidate, I did not vote to hire him. I represent this community first which drives me to wonder why his salary and his extras were not debated among council with only a few ‘in charge’ of the process and an attorney who is only a messenger. I was taken aback when such a sweet agreement was approved by council in closed session. This process could have been handled with transparency but we now have to believe Councilman Real has made another wise decision. Equally troubling – the council was not given a face to face meeting to conduct a valid job interview. I have sat through several city manager interviews and this is the first hiring with no interview. This candidate also contacted me after filing his application to lobby me which is prohibited according to the agreement he signed at the time of applying. These reasons compelled me to vote against this candidate last night. When will the city council follow fair hiring practices? Who will respect that this city is in turmoil and should set examples of transparency for those they are expected to lead? I believe if the council has also asked employees to take that drastic cut, as rumored, then, Mr. Villa should start on June 22 by accepting a 28% salary reduction for himself. It would be a show of solidarity to the city as a whole and it is a fair demand if the council expects other staff to carry so much. It’s the right thing to do for the CM to prove devotion to the job and the city and will surely promote accountability with staff. So, do I still have concerns? Yes. But, I know we’ve been through a lot of challenges. Information is key to working together. The city needs to see official financials now. I only seek transparency and I do apologize if I offended anyone with my words but I am doing my job to inform you of my experience. I have seen enough abuse to a system that just can’t get out of these frustrating practices. It is as hard for me to write about these circumstances as it may be equally as hard to read them.”
Villa’s was not present during the announcement and was not available for questions or statements.
Villa will replace the current interim City Manager Nick Fenley, who holds the position since September when former Richard Warne was placed on administrative leave and terminated shortly after.