The Coast News Group

Encinitas city manager search narrowed to three candidates

The search for Encinitas’ new city manager is down to three finalists.

The City Council announced, following its Saturday session, that it had unanimously narrowed the field of seven finalists to three, but did not release the names of the three finalists, citing personnel confidentiality.

Encinitas is looking for a permanent city manager to replace Gus Vina, who left in January to take the same position in the Northern California city of Brentwood. Vina served three years after replacing Phil Cotton.

Currently, former public works director and current Olivenhain Municipal Water District board member Larry Watt is serving as interim city manager. The city is paying him $15,000 a month for six months, and expects to hire a new manager before Watt’s contract expires July 1.

The city manager in Encinitas’ weak-mayor system of government administers city council policies and oversees the day-to-day operations of the city.

Encinitas is one of four coastal cities that have replaced or are looking to replace their city managers over the past six months. Oceanside is looking to replace Steve Jepsen, who resigned in February after reportedly being forced out by the council majority. Carlsbad recently parted ways with its city manager, Steve Sarkozy, after only one year on the job after relocating from Bellevue, Wash.

Solana Beach recently hired former Imperial Beach Assistant City Manager Greg Wade to replace longtime city manager David Ott, who announced his retirement in May but stayed on as the interim head.