Irvine City Manager John Russo to Leave Post

Monday, June 01, 2020

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(Orange County Register)

Irvine City Manager John Russo will stay in his post through the summer but plans to resign as of Labor Day to devote more time to his family, including his first grandchild who’s due to be born in September.

Spending time with family is a common excuse when public figures are under pressure to resign or fleeing scandal, but Russo said Friday, May 29, that in his case it’s legit.

Russo, 61, said there’s no personal or political conflict behind his decision. After dealing with recent deaths in the family and the coronavirus crisis, and learning he’ll soon be a grandfather, he took stock and said he decided to shift into consulting and teaching to have a more flexible and forgiving schedule.

Councilwoman Melissa Fox said she’s sorry to see Russo go and called it “classy” of him to give plenty of notice so the council can find a replacement.

“This is not the easiest city to pilot and the City Council is not the easiest body to navigate,” she said. “He has done an admirable job. I hope that we have someone who follows behind him who is just as skilled.”

After spending the first part of his career as an elected city councilman and city attorney, then a city manager, in the Bay Area, Russo came to Southern California in 2014 as Riverside’s city manager. After about four years, a spat with the Riverside mayor and council over a contract extension ended in a split vote to fire Russo.

Months later, Irvine officials hired him. In the past two years, Russo said he’s proud of getting a number of projects moving at the Orange County Great Park, reaching compromise on a longstanding disagreement with the Orange County Fire Authority, negotiating four-year employee union contracts, and helping address a budget deficit.

“During the last two years he has overseen some really successful efforts,” such as contract negotiations and getting the city to pay down its pension obligations, Mayor Christina Shea said.

“I really am very uncomfortable that he’s decided to leave and it’s going to be very difficult to replace him,” she said.

Shea and Fox both said they’d like to consider internal candidates before doing a broader search for a new city manager.



Category: Community News