The City Council has asked the city's freshly-hired assistant city manager, Melissa Stevenson Dile, to take over as interim city manager when Kevin Duggan retires in April.
"I'm honored that they asked me to do this," Dile said. "My role is going to be helping us as an organization keep moving forward on key issues. I think the public is going to see very little change in the next few months, until a new city manager is hired."
Dile, a 41-year-old San Jose resident, was hired by Mountain View in September for a new job that combines the role of assistant city manager with employee services director. Combining the two roles was a cost-saving measure after former head of employee services, Kathy Farrar, retired last year after 38 years.
When Dile takes the helm in April, her biggest challenge will be helping the council approve a city budget by June, which will likely require some difficult budget cuts. The city manager usually plays a major role in the budget process, giving presentations and fielding difficult questions from the council. It's a job that Duggan is famously good at, but Dile said she's got a number of years of experience working on city budgets.
In order to get through the budget and the city manager transition smoothly, Dile said city management is working to get a budget strategy together earlier than usual.
"The finance director and is working closely with Kevin to bring a budget strategy to council before he leaves," Dile said. "Hopefully council will be prepared to endorse a budget strategy a little earlier."
Before coming to Mountain View, Dile had last worked as assistant city manager in Fremont for four years. Before that she worked for the city of Morgan Hill for 15 years in various capacities, including assistant to the city manager and human resources manager.
Much like her predecessor Nadine Levin did in 1990, Dile is being asked to run the city temporarily only months after being hired. Dile is not seeking the city manager job herself, she said. "I would love to be city manager at some point. It's not the right time for me personally," she said.
Dile got her start in city government in Morgan Hill as an analyst in the city manager's office, after college. Of all the things a future city official could chose to study at Mills College in Oakland, Dile chose Medieval European History, with a minor in government. She was thankful to be hired by a city manager that was willing to train her, she said. She eventually earned a master's degree in public administration from San Jose State University in 1996.
With a father in the U.S. Air Force, Stevenson said she was born in Sacramento but grew up various places, including the Central Valley, Maine, Nebraska and Okinawa, Japan. She attended high school in Omaha.
Now that she's landed in Mountain View, "I hope to be here quite a long time," Dile said.
"I was sorry to hear about Kevin's retirement because I've really enjoyed working with him," she said. "But there are great staff here and great services. There has been a strong history of respectful relationships between council and staff and there has been an emphasis on being more conservative financially."
This year's budget process may be difficult, but "I feel like were in a better position to move through this than has been the case elsewhere."