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Santa Rosa city manager announces retirement

  • Kathy Millison announced her retirement this week. She will stay on the job until September to give the city council enough time to hire a replacement (photo courtesy of City of Santa Rosa)

Santa Rosa City Manager Kathy Millison announced Monday she will retire in September after 3 1/2 years at the helm of Sonoma County's largest city.

Millison, 62, informed the City Council of her decision during her performance review earlier this month and made it public Monday afternoon.

“I've had a very long career in this business and it's been really great, and but it's time,” Millison said in an interview Monday.

She noted that she's been in public service for 37 years and wants to spend more time with her husband, Richard, and 14 grandchildren. She has agreed to remain on the job until September to allow her to complete several important tasks and ensure a “seamless transition” to the next administration, she said.

Her announcement comes just two weeks after the City Council completed accelerated performance evaluations of both Millison and City Attorney Caroline Fowler. The results of those reviews are confidential.

Mayor Scott Bartley praised Millison for her intelligence, work ethic and commitment to stabilizing the city's finances following a painful period of cutbacks following the recession.

“She's done an amazing job,” Bartley said. “She got us on stable financial footing, which I think is a huge accomplishment.”

Councilman Gary Wysocky agreed that Millison had provided much needed leadership during a turbulent period of the city, politically and financially.

“She was at the helm when there were storms coming every which way,” Wysocky said. “Folks here don't know, because she was a very understated person, how knowledgeable and how steady she was.”

The long-time city manager of Clovis, Millison was hired in the summer of 2010 by a City Council sharply divided over whether she was the right leader for the job. The left-leaning council majority headed by then Mayor Susan Gorin backed Millison on a 4-3 vote. The three nay votes came from council members who expressed concern that the candidate pool from which Millison was selected was too small. Some walked out of council meetings on the hiring process.

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