The city of Solvang has announced the appointment of Xenia Bradford as Acting City Manager, effective immediately.
On Monday, the Solvang City Council accepted the resignation of former City Manager David Gassaway. The council voted unanimously to offer the position to Matt van der Linden, the long-time Public Works Director. Mr. van der Linden declined, with the city then offering the position to Ms. Bradford, according to a news release.
“I believe the best way I can serve the City Council and the residents/businesses of Solvang is to focus on public works and capital projects especially our upcoming major Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade,” Mr. van der Linden said in a statement. “I do not believe I would be able to effectively oversee the Public Works Department and serve as Acting City Manager.”
Ms. Bradford has received two degrees from UCSB, including a BF in business economics with an emphasis on accounting and an MA in economics with an emphasis on business. After attending UCSB, she continued higher education by earning a Master of Public Policy with an emphasis in local government and international relation from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Public Policy.
Ms. Bradford then attended Santa Barbara College of Law and graduated in 2008 with a Juris Doctorate.
Prior to working for the city of Solvang, Ms. Bradford served as Finance Director for the city of San Luis Obispo. She has also spent time working with the County Executive Office of Santa Barbara County and roles in the private sector. She was also an applicant in the recruitment of hiring the new city manager for Solvang.
“I look forward to working closely with the City Council to deliver on Council goals,” Ms. Bradford said in a statement. “It has been a pleasure working for the City of Solvang as a consultant since May 2018 and as Administrative Services Director since April of this year.”
She will continue to manage the Finances, Human Resources and IT department as Administrative Services Director along with her new responsibility as Acting City Manager.
“As a member of the finance committee, I’ve worked very closely with Xenia on the development of the budget,” Mayor Ryan Toussaint said in a statement. “Both Daniel Johnson and I have had a very positive experience with Xenia. She is very capable and will certainly excel with her new responsibilities.”
On Monday, the city and Mr. Gassaway reached a mutual agreement on separation effective immediately. The majority of the city council suggested to Mr. Gassaway that he resign, with the majority consisting of Mr. Toussaint, Mr. Johnson and councilman Chris Djernaes.
The motion included waving the 45-day notice period for resignation and six months of severance pay and medical coverage, as well as continuation of his housing allowance for six months or until the home sells, according to officials.
Mr. Gassaway, who was making an annual salary of $175,000, was terminated without cause which made him eligible for the continuance of the benefits and severance pay, according to the terms of his contract.
In an announcement Monday night, Mr. Toussaint said the separation had nothing to do with performance.
“The City Council has a different direction for the community and we mutually agreed that a separation would allow the City Council to achieve its desired outcomes,” Mr. Toussaint said in a statement. “We wish David well and thank him for his time in Solvang.”