Rancho Cordova’s new city manager, Brian Nakamura, is no stranger to the area: He’s a graduate of California State University, Sacramento, where he got his bachelor’s degree in economics, and he’s a native of Lodi.
“He can see what we have,” said Bob McGarvey, vice mayor of Rancho Cordova. “It’s really interesting to see a person who’s looking at the potential of the city, rather than changing what we are.”
On Monday, the Rancho Cordova City Council unanimously approved an employment agreement for Nakamura, which includes a starting annual salary of $231,576. Nakamura, 49, will start his new job on July 1. He was among 50 candidates recruited from around the country in a search that started last October.
Nakamura, who has a wife and two adult sons, was traveling Monday and was not available for comment. He will be only the second person to serve as city manager of Rancho Cordova, which incorporated in 2003. He replaces Ted Gaebler, who retired in February.
“It was a long process,” McGarvey said. “We were looking for someone who would pick up where Ted Gaebler left off. We wanted someone who can see what our goals are and what we’re trying to do with a new city.”
Nakamura will be working with a very different economic environment in Rancho Cordova than the one he’s dealt with in Chico the last two years.
Rancho Cordova is experiencing a development boom, with a new Folsom Lake College campus being built, a new entertainment complex planned and construction already begun on a fire training center.
“We have been very successful with the economy,” McGarvey said. “If we didn’t have the money, we didn’t spend it. It gave us an advantage.”
By contrast, Nakamura was hired two years ago in Chico to get that city’s fiscal house in order. The city was looking at massive budget deficits and a grand jury investigation into its financial management practices. Nakamura came under fire from some city staff and residents for restructuring departments, laying off workers and making budget cuts.
“He brought the city of Chico through a tremendous financial situation,” said Mark Orme, assistant city manager of Chico. “He was able to identify the city’s financial constraints and got the city headed in the right direction.”
But that was not the reason why Nakamura got the job at Rancho Cordova.
“We were not looking for someone who can fix the finances – they don’t need to be fixed,” McGarvey said. “We were looking for someone who can keep the growth and the culture (of the city) going, someone who can see there are some really wonderful things in Rancho Cordova.”
McGarvey said that the city was also looking for someone who liked to work with the public as well as with city staff and council. Nakamura has served as city manager in a number of California municipalities, including Banning and Hemet in Riverside County.
“It’s like a team,” McGarvey said. “People are asking us how we’re running our city, because of the successes we have. People look forward to coming to work here.”