2012-04-13 / Front Page

Longtime city manager announces retirement

Sedell stepping down after 17 years at the helm
By Carissa Marsh


Mike Sedell Mike Sedell After 40 years in public service and 17 in his current leadership role, City Manager Mike Sedell announced this week that he would retire.

Sedell informed the City Council of his intent to step down during Monday’s closed session meeting and his retirement was publicly announced Tuesday.

His last day will be July 6.

Sedell said it has been an honor to serve as city manager for Simi Valley, and that while it is difficult to step away from the profession he is passionate about and leading a community that he loves, it is time to focus on family.

“(My wife) Judie was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer two years ago now and has been fighting a progressive disease since that time. And I want to do everything I can to assist her in that fight,” said Sedell, 61, a Simi resident since 1972. He and Judie have been married nearly 34 years.

Sedell explained in his retirement letter to the City Council that the position of city manager requires 24/7 attention, something he can no longer give.

“While the City Council has been gracious in allowing me flexibility in my time off, I believe that the time that I may need away from City Hall in the near future would not afford the opportunity to provide the service to the city that your City Council needs and deserves,” he wrote.

Sedell began his career with the City of Simi Valley in 1972 as an intern from Cal State Northridge. He served as the city’s personnel administrator and community services coordinator, working with the Neighborhood Council program and youth services, before joining the city manager’s office in 1975.

When then-Mayor Elton Gallegly was elected to Congress, Sedell signed on to serve as his chief of staff. However, after three years of commuting between California and Washington, D.C., he decided he preferred local government to national politics and returned to Simi Valley in 1989 as the city’s assistant city manager.

When former City Manager Lin Koester left the city to work for the county in 1995, Sedell was unanimously appointed by the City Council as his replacement.

“I have enjoyed and appreciated the full support of all of the City Councils that I have worked with,” Sedell’s letter read, “and I know that is because we have always had the same goals of service to our community, and mutually sought to make Simi Valley a better place for all of our residents.”

Mayor Pro Tem Barbra Williamson, the longest- serving council member with nearly two decades at the dais, said she was not prepared for Sedell’s retirement news Monday night and took it hard.

“I can’t think of anybody that has done more for the City of Simi Valley than Mike Sedell,” she said, choking up. “He’s always been in the background, never taking credit for anything and . . . I can’t think of anybody that doesn’t respect Mike Sedell. For his wisdom, his guidance, his friendship and for what he has done for the city.”

Williamson said Sedell is “the glue” at City Hall, the one that makes all of the City Council members look good. His leadership will be missed but she wishes him the best, saying he’s more than paid his dues.

“I’m happy for him, I’m happy for Judie, and he deserves to have some fun time,” Williamson said.

Sedell said he set his retirement date for July 6 to provide him the opportunity to work with the City Council through the fiscal year 2012-13 budget adoption process and to implement any necessary fiscal decisions to continue the city’s “positive momentum.”

Sedell is proud of the financial stability the city has developed over the years, calling Simi Valley one of the top cities in the state, if not the nation, in that regard. Though there are still challenges ahead that will test the city’s ability to effectively deliver services while staying within budget constraints, Sedell said he is confident the city organization will continue to excel beyond his tenure, in part because city staff is “second to none.”

“They have the full capability to continue on the course that the City Council has set,” he said, adding that he anticipates a “seamless” transition to a new city manager.

Following Sedell’s announcement, Rep. Gallegly (R-Camarillo) issued a statement saying that, after working together for 33 years, he and Sedell are more than professional associates and he wishes his friend the best in retirement.

“Not a week goes by that we don’t connect to discuss a federal issue, or a local issue, or our respective families,” the congressman said. “Mike has spent a lifetime in public service at the federal and local level. He has steered the city through many difficult times with great success.”

When news hit the Simi Valley Acorn’s Facebook page about Sedell’s impending exit, several residents responded with well wishes, saying his retirement is well deserved.

“ Well earned retirement,” Thomas McLean said. “However, Mike will be greatly missed by the citizens of Simi Valley.”

“Your replacement has some big shoes to fill,” Peter Carrube added.

Fellow resident Louis Pandolfi keenly noted that Sedell’s upcoming departure is just one of several announced by the city’s top brass in recent months, and he had a message for city leaders dealing with the transitions in executive management.

“New Police Chief, new City Attorney, new City Manager. The city is in for a rocky couple of years unless this City Council gets united and can see a vision (for) the future,” Pandolfi said.

Williamson said there are “really good people” in the city and that Sedell trained those around him to be able to step in and keep the city moving forward.

“ Change isn’t necessarily bad for an organization. It brings in new views and new ways of looking at things,” Sedell told the Acorn.

The City Council will discuss an interim appointment during its closed session meeting on April 23.

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