WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa City Manager announces retirement

Kathy Millison (courtesy of City of Santa Rosa)

Kathy Millison (courtesy of City of Santa Rosa)


Santa Rosa City Manager Kathy Millison announced her retirement Monday 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 issued a press release Monday afternoon.

“City management is a very challenging yet rewarding profession,” Millison said in a statement. She added that it had been “an honor to be of service to the community.”

Millison agreed to remain on the job until September to give the council time to hire a replacement.

Her announcement comes just two weeks after the City Council announced it had 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.”

Millison could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.

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.

Millison has since won praise from Bartley as an experienced professional who made wise hires and helped guide the city through turbulent times. These included protests of City Hall by the Occupy movement and the ouster of the top managers in the Parks and Recreation Department.

“Some may not agree with what she did, but she didn’t shy away from those things,” Bartley said. “She dealt with them, and that’s commendable.”

One criticism of Millison, however, was her handling of the city’s response to the Andy Lopez shooting in which she instructed city council members to say nothing about the incident.

Another criticism has been that she hasn’t fully engaged with the community since she was hired. She never sold her home in Clovis and often returned there on weekends. She told the council two weeks ago she was stepping down in part because her husband, Richard, was in poor health.

Millison has been in public service for 37 years. She worked in Clovis for 27 years, 19 as its city manager and eight years as assistant city manager. Before that she had numerous local government positions in Washington and Oregon.

With approximately 30 years of service by the time she leaves Santa Rosa, Millison likely will earn a state pension equal to 90 percent of her salary, or about $190,000 per year.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @citybeater.

7 Responses to “Santa Rosa City Manager announces retirement”

  1. Don says:

    Keep electing those “Progressives” into office! What does this person do that someone should make over 20K a month?

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  2. bear says:

    She earned it over 30 years.

    Anyone on this board could have applied for any of the jobs she held.

    Guess you didn’t.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 19

  3. Steveguy says:

    From Transparent California- KATHLEEN, MILLISON CITY MANAGER
    Santa Rosa, 2012 $208,515.37 $0.00 $23,726.09 $61,796.28 $294,037.74..

    Yup folks $300 K a year. Now she can get the pension and lobby like Ken Blackman has done ! Makin’ the bank !

    $62,000 in benefits alone ?? Where are the pitchforks and torches ?

    When will we all say ENOUGH !! ???? When ?

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 3

  4. Steveguy says:

    Her ” public Service ” is now ” public funds rape “.. $200,000 K a year ? For life ? Probably PLUS medical at $almost $20 K a year.

    At their fancy salaries most folks could save for their old age. She won the lottery by fleecing the taxpayers like all of the other scam artists.

    Next stop ? Probably a ” consultant ” position for another $300,000 K a year.

    Pay up suckers

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 4

  5. Papa ESoCo says:

    Ya think Kathy woke up and smelled the coffee? As in her frequent missteps, especially surrounding the Andy Lopez tragedy? Or, more to the point, the handwriting on the wall after the outside consultant was brought in to assess her Job Performance? It would seem too close for coincidence, don’t ya think? Good riddance to a poor manager. I suppose she will be receiving a fat retirement package; don’t they always?

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

  6. Nancy says:

    Unfortunately for Santa Rosa, Millison was never an effective leader. Her regime was characterized by following, not leading with her finger always high in the left political wind.

    This wild gang of council members need a real leader in the wheel house, not a bureaucrat looking forward to her 3 years and retirement.

    An effective NO or we are not going down that road, would have corrected the ship and kept the city on course. Instead we got a socially concerned always ready to please attitude from the occupy mess to the Lopez situation.

    Maybe the council can find it within themselves to hire a manager with a backbone and leadership ability to herd this pack of cats. Not an easy assignment, but required.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  7. David says:

    $190,000 a year NOT to work?? All paid for by taxpayers!!

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

Leave a Reply