The West Hollywood City Council announced this week that it has selected Assistant City Manager David Wilson as the replacement for City Manager Paul Arevalo, who is retiring in July after more than two decades in his position.
Wilson, who has also been with the city of West Hollywood for more than 20 years, including the last three as assistant city manager, was selected during “an internal recruitment process,” according to City Attorney Lauren Langer, who made the announcement during the May 17 council meeting. His selection is pending approval of a contract during the June 7 meeting.
“Thank you for the opportunity to serve as the next city manager,” Wilson said during the meeting. “I look forward to working with you all and the various communities of West Hollywood along with our city staff as we work through the recovery of the COVID pandemic and beyond.”
Mayor Lindsey Horvath said during the meeting that she is “especially excited” about the selection of Wilson because of his experience, not only with the city, but also as a professional football player, which helped him develop team skills that will help him in the city manager role. A defensive back, Wilson played four games for the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots in 1992. Horvath also championed the fact that he’s the first Black city manager in the city’s 37-year-history.
“Being someone who could not only perform under pressure but also someone that his team can rely on is something he learned how to do early in his personal growth and will benefit all of us who have the chance to work with him,” Horvath said. “Professionally, he began his service to our city as an intern and has made his work in West Hollywood the focus of his career. His demonstrated understanding of City Hall’s day-to-day operations as well as our city’s finances give all of us confidence in him and his abilities as we face the transition ahead. He is the right person at the right time, and I am personally committed to doing all I can to help him succeed.”
Arevalo announced his retirement in March, saying he was ready to “start a new chapter” in his life. He opted to wait to leave his post until the summer to help the city through its annual budget process as it looks to weather the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.
The council had since been holding the search for his replacement in multiple closed door executive session meetings. They eventually chose Wilson, who joined West Hollywood as an intern before rising to the position of assistant city manager, where he’s tasked with providing leadership, executive direction and oversight of all city operations and services and ensuring that the city government responds to community needs in a timely and effective manner.
While the search was held in private, Horvath said it was a “thorough, complete process,” thanks to the work of the rest of the council, Arevalo, Langer and former City Attorney Mike Jenkins, who also recently retired. She said they’re going to continue to work together to ensure a smooth transition.
“While we heard for a while that the end of Paul’s term was approaching, no one knew that it would happen at this critical time, in the wake of a global health pandemic and economic recession. This time has been hard on everyone, including and especially the people we’ve relied on to get us through. While we are all frustrated by how we got here and the impacts that we are left to deal with, as well as the challenges in rebuilding ahead, I ask that we all dig a little deeper to show up for each other at this very important time. Careful transition takes time and rebuilding requires even more intentional thought and action. Change will likely not be felt overnight, but with each passing day we all have a role to play. …
“To that end, hiring a new city manager is something very few people in the city’s history have been a part of, and it’s been quite a long time since the city has embarked on such a transition,” she continued. “In some ways, I wish the public had been able to see us manage this important decision, as I believe it brought out the best in each of us and elevated our focus, discussion and vision as a whole council for our city’s future. I am grateful for what each of you brought to the deliberation.”
Wilson has a bachelor’s degree in political economy of industrial societies from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in planning from the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California. He also holds certificates of completion from Harvard University’s Leadership Decision Making Program, the International City/County Management Association’s Leadership ICMA Program and the University of Virginia’s Senior Executive Institute.
Wilson noted in a press release that his priorities will be recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, reopening city facilities to the public and moving forward with the visioning process for the next 30 years of West Hollywood.
“West Hollywood is an extraordinary place to live, work and play, and I look forward to my new role working collaboratively with the City Council, West Hollywood’s various communities and city staff,” Wilson said.
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