By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Windsor didn’t have to go far to find a new town manager.
The Windsor Town Council on Thursday announced the job will go to Linda Kelly, the current city manager in Sonoma.
The selection came after a six-month search involving almost 50 applicants from the western United States.
“We’re excited that Linda has accepted our offer. This is a step up for her,” said Windsor Mayor Debora Fudge. “Sonoma will not be happy that we’re stealing her from them.”
She described Kelly as an “experienced city manager with impressive credentials.”
“A lot of us know Linda. We see her on regional county-wide committees. She is well known to us and known as a leader among city managers,” Fudge said. “She’s a perfect match.”
Kelly, 46, is replacing Town Manager Matt Mullan, 61, who is retiring next month after seven years as the top administrator.
She will be paid $168,200, up from her current salary in Sonoma of $141,000, but less than Mullan’s $193,000 pay.
Windsor, the youngest incorporated city in Sonoma County with 27,000 people, has a population more than twice the size of Sonoma, a former Mexican pueblo that was one of the county’s earliest non-native settlements.
But nowadays they have some things in common.
Both are the only cities to contract out their police services to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
“There are a lot of similarities,” Kelly said, including “a tradition of strong and conservative fiscal management that placed them in a better position to withstand the economic challenges faced in the last few years.”
She said both communities are proud of their town plazas. Windsor’s Town Green is a decade old compared to Sonoma’s historic plaza dating to the early 1800s, but both are focal points and gathering spots.
She said both cities face “the challenge of economic development in the future, absent redevelopment funding.”
Fudge said one thing the new town manager brings is an expertise in tourism and hotel bed taxes that could help Windsor “create a tourism destination like Sonoma has.”
“I don’t know that we have the stature of Sonoma,” Fudge acknowledged. But she said Kelly has connections in the tourism industry that “will serve us well.”
Kelly said she is anxious to meet with members of the Windsor business community and get a better understanding of the town’s real estate, downtown zoning and “what is desired by the community there.”
Kelly, who grew up in Southern California, has a degree in political science from Cal State Los Angeles and a master’s degree from the University of California, Riverside.
She has been city manager in Sonoma since 2008 and for two years before that was city manager of Fairfax in Marin. Prior to that she worked in various government positions in Sunnyvale, Long Beach and Pasadena.
Kelly lives in the Bennett Valley area of Santa Rosa with her husband, who works for Redwood City in the community development department. They have two children, ages 8 and 15.