Cupid to blame for Riverbank city manager’s exit

Jill Anderson, Riverbank city manager
Jill Anderson, Riverbank city manager Modesto Bee

The city is losing its top unelected leader to love.

After 4 1/2 years at the helm, City Manager Jill Anderson is leaving to take the same job at Chehalis, Wash., between Seattle and Portland, Ore. It’s much smaller – 7,268 people, compared with Riverbank’s 23,485 – but it’s closer to her boyfriend.

“While I’m excited about the opportunity in Chehalis, (the move) is prompted for personal reasons,” Anderson said. “We believe it would be good to live in the same state before we get engaged.”

7,268 Population of Chehalis, Wash.

23,485 Population of Riverbank

When Anderson leaves Aug. 25, Finance Director Marisela Garcia will fill in as interim city manager, the Riverbank City Council has decided. The council asked its legal firm, Churchwell White, to conduct a competitive search for a successor to Anderson, whose salary is $155,000.

Anderson, 52, arrived in Riverbank a week after then-Councilman Jesse James White crashed his Chevrolet Corvette into a parked vehicle and tried to flee with his 4-year-old son still in the car, in February 2012. She then weathered a close and contentious race that saw current Mayor Richard O’Brien oust predecessor Virginia Madueño, but things have calmed a lot in the years since.

Riverbank will always have a special place in my heart.

Jill Anderson, city manager since 2012

“This is an exciting new chapter for me professionally and personally,” Anderson said, “but Riverbank will always have a special place in my heart.”

Before coming to the self-proclaimed “City of Action,” Anderson worked in Seaside and Norwalk. The Chehalis council picked her over three other finalists to succeed a man who retired after 10 years as city manager.

Garcia said she will apply for the permanent position in Riverbank. She started 19 years ago as a part-time recreation employee in an after-school program, helping students with homework and arts and crafts. Armed with an accounting degree from California State University, Stanislaus, Garcia later was hired as an account clerk and worked her way up to appointment as finance director in 2006.

Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390