LEMOORE — Following a months-long search for a new city manager, the Lemoore City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to hire Andrea Welsh for the job.
The council has been trying to fill the city’s top administrative position since City Manager Jeff Laws retired in March.
Welsh’s first day will be July 6. She currently serves as assistant to the town manager in Gilbert, Ariz., which is located about 20 miles southeast of Phoenix and has a population of about 230,000. She has more than 10 years of experience in municipal government, including administrative positions with the Arizona cities of Sedona and El Mirage
Welsh is a California native who earned her undergraduate degree from University of California, Santa Cruz. She received full scholarship to attend Villanova University where she earned a master's degree in public administration.
“Lemoore is a great city to return to my native state and be closer to my family in Southern California,” Welsh said.
Interim City Manager Ron Hoggard said the city received more than a dozen applications for the city manager job. Those applications narrowed down to four top candidates for the council to interview.
Mayor Lois Wynne said Welsh, unbeknownst to the council, arrived in Lemoore a couple of days before she was interviewed. During that time, Wynne said, Welsh spoke with business owners, visited the Lemoore Golf Course and spoke to a representative at Naval Air Station Lemoore.
“She comes highly recommended and she has a wealth of knowledge,” Wynne said.
Welsh told The Sentinel that her role as city manager will involve listening to the community and working with the council and city staff to achieve their vision.
“During my community research, many local leaders mentioned the tremendous opportunities ahead for Lemoore with the expansion of the Lemoore Naval Air Station and potential for business growth,” Welsh said.
Councilman William Siegel said during Tuesday’s meeting that he was impressed with all four top candidates, but he is confident Welsh was the right choice.
"I'm excited,” Siegel said. “The energy that Andi's going to bring into this city is remarkable.”
The council approved a three-year contract with Welsh valid through June 30, 2018. Her annual compensation will include a salary of $128,760, plus a $400 monthly vehicle allowance and a cellphone for conducting city business.
According to the contract, the city will also pay for Welsh to relocate from Avondale, Ariz. Those costs could include packing, moving, storage costs, unpacking and insurance charges. Welsh will be reimbursed for airfare up to $2,000 to assist with house hunting and other aspects of relocating prior to her start date.
The contract cannot be terminated within 180 days following the election of a City Council election. If terminated without cause, Welsh would be entitled to severance pay equal to six months or the remainder of her contract, whichever is less. Severance pay would increase by one month for every year of the three-year contract she successfully completes.
Hoggard said Welsh’s first major tasks will include hiring for several vacant positions. Public Works Director David Wlaschin retired earlier this year. The application period for that job will close on July 2.
“One of the first things she’ll need to do is find and fill that position,” Hoggard said.
Other major items on the horizon, Hoggard said, include the ongoing drought, development related to the growth of Naval Air Station Lemoore and continued efforts to attract new commercial development to the city.
Hoggard’s last day will be June 30. Police Chief Darrell Smith will fill in as acting city manager until Welsh starts.