Oxnard City Council Approves New City Manager

City of Oxnard

(Oxnard, Ca) The City Council of Oxnard has announced it’s selection of Alex Nguyen as City Manager for the county’s largest municipality as measured by population.

Nguyen, a graduate of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, speaks English, non-academic Vietnamese and conversational Spanish

In a press release, the city council shared that Alex Nguyen comes to the community with substantial experience. Click Here to see the press release.

“Nguyen comes to Oxnard with 20 years of municipal experience from the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and Riverside, California. In Oakland, he served as Chief of Staff for a City Council office for two years, and for the elected City Attorney for 11 years, where he was co-creator and Executive Director of the Neighborhood Law Corps. The program won local, state, and national awards for government innovation, and continues to operate today.

In Alameda, Nguyen served as Assistant City Manager and led the turnaround of the Public Works department, which became only the second of its size in the Bay Area to gain professional accreditation. He also led the effort to build the city’s first dedicated Emergency Operations Center, along with a new fire station.

In Riverside, also as Assistant City Manager, Nguyen led the effort to fund and design a new Main Library and City Archive downtown, with groundbreaking expected in summer 2018. He also led the city’s Office of Homeless Solutions, which developed Riverside’s homeless policy and Housing First Plan, implemented in March 2018. His portfolio in Riverside also included Police, Fire, Parks, Museum, and Citizens Police Review Commission.”

The role of City Manager is selected by the city council and includes the full time management of all city operations as its chief executive. Oxnard is the only city in Ventura County that is “full service,” meaning it has its own police, fire, library, and other city managed services.

With a population of 208,000 and 1,300 city employees, Oxnard’s City Manager plays a key role insuring the city’s operations run smoothly. However, of recent, Oxnard has been plagued with serious issues.

The list is extensive. Oxnard is in a $7 million shortfall, its water treatment plant has deteriorated and “at failure risk” according to internal reports, the city lost a legal battle to Aaron Star and now must pay back funds related to a water rate hike made contrary to Measure M, many Oxnard roads are in poor condition and in need of repair, the city faces $269M in unfunded pension liability, the city’s creadit rating was lowered last year by Standard & Poor’s thereby impacting its ability to borrow, along with many other infrastructure challenges. The role of city manager could not be any more critical to addressing and resolving these issues.

While happy at the appointment of someone with extensive experience, community members took to social media expressing disappointment with the salary Nguyen will be receiving.

“The city council had another chance to send the right message to the people and once again they failed,” shared one community member. “Times in Oxnard are bad right now. They will be eliminating 13 positions, we have no money to fix our roads, there’s a 7 million shortfall that needs to be addressed, we recently faced an expensive recall, we can’t afford to fix our water treatment plant and yet they are paying this guy a one-time payment of five thousand dollars ($5,000) to work and live in Oxnard and two thousand dollars ($2,000) for an apartment rental in Oxnard for up to four (4) months. (That is a total of $13,000 before and during his first four months.) and an Automobile Allowance: biweekly amount of $184.62 ($4,800 per year). Come on!”

Nguyen’s total compensation package will be $355,000, which has some community members angered considering Oxnard’s financial circumstances.

Ironically, Nguyen leaves the city of Riverside in a time of great flux. City Manager, John A Russo, was terminated abruptly by Mayor Rusty Bailey on April 17 and 3 days later appointed former interim city manager Lee McDougal to fill the role again. The firing came as the result of disagreements between Bailey and Russo over Russo’s compensation package as City Manager.

Nguyen and Russo had worked together in various roles in a few cities across the state over the past 6 years.