Deputy City Manager Joe Lopez is poised to become Modesto's next city manager, a position he's been filling on a temporary basis for a little more than a year.
He emerged as the top candidate after a City Council recruitment, and Mayor Ted Brandvold announced Tuesday that the council would enter into contract negotiations with the 42-year-old Lopez for the job. The contract is expected to come to the council for approval in a couple of weeks.
City Attorney Adam Lindgren did not release the council vote to enter into negotiations, saying that information is not public, though California News Publishers Association legal counsel Nikki Moore argues that it is.
Modesto released the vote in 2014 when a previous council decided to enter into contract negotiations with its last city manager. That vote was 7-0.
So The Bee asked each council member why Lopez is the right person for the job.
- Councilwoman Kristi Ah You: “My first choice was not Joe … because he only has one year experience working as a city manager. There were candidates who were more highly qualified. But with that being said, I believe in the democratic process, and our council chose Joe to lead. And I'm going to get behind and support him to do the best job he can do."
- Mayor Ted Brandvold: “In partnership with the City Council, Joe Lopez has the experience needed to take on the challenges facing our community.”
- Councilman Mani Grewal: “I think he has the institutional knowledge. He has been in the organization for multiple years and understands the dynamics of the employee (labor) groups, the council and the community.”
- Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer: “He has the most knowledge. He works really well with the county. And he’s worked independently in the last year without (having the two) deputy city managers. He just knows the city and its needs. He’s worked really hard to keep us informed.”
- Councilman Tony Madrigal: “He’s committed to Modesto and has the experience to hit the ground running.”
Councilman Doug Ridenour did not return two phone calls seeking comment, but during council meetings he has praised Lopez's performance.
Councilman Bill Zoslocki: "I think considering where the city is with transitions, we've had so many employees who've turned over, we are down to (about) two department heads with more than a year's experience, Joe has weathered that storm. Even largely without deputy city managers (Assistant Police Chief Rick Armendariz has picked up some of the work), Joe has proven he has the capacity to work hard. And given that we are in such a transition period, now is not the time to risk having a new individual. And Joe has a good grasp of what's going on with the city."