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Cole Says He is Not Applying for City Manager Position

Published on Thursday, September 23, 2021 | 11:40 am
Rick Cole

Replying to a query from Pasadena Now on Wednesday, former Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole, a three-term member of the Pasadena City Council, said he is not applying for Pasadena’s soon-to-be-vacant city manager position.

“No, while I appreciate being able to serve my hometown as a volunteer adviser to Mayor [Victor] Gordo on housing issues, I’m committed to the job I have — which is a national role on designing for climate change, legalizing walkable urbanism, and promoting complete neighborhoods,” Cole said. 

In May, the Congress for the New Urbanism chose Cole to serve as its executive director. 

CNU provides resources, education and technical assistance to create equitable, resilient places that people love. Its members include architects, urban designers, engineers, planners, developers, historic preservationists, small business people, health professionals, and government officials. 

Local residents almost immediately began bandying about the idea of Cole being a replacement for City Manager Steve Mermell after Pasadena Now first reported Mermell’s pending retirement on Monday night. 

Cole served on the Pasadena City Council for 12 years and rotated into the mayor’s chair, in which he served from 1992-1994.

In 1991, then-Vice Mayor Cole took Tournament of Roses officials to task after they selected Cristobol Colon, a descendent of Christopher Columbus, to serve as grand marshal of the 1992 Rose Parade. That year marked the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage.

Cole lambasted Columbus as a symbol of racism, rape and greed. Later, Cole wore a shirt that said “Tournament of Racism” when his time came to ride in the parade as mayor. 

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, following criticisms about the lack of minorities and women in the organization, the Tournament of Roses began integrating its executive committee.

Cole later served as city manager in Azusa and Ventura.

In a Q&A with Pasadena Now, published on Thursday, Cole said the clearer the City Council members are on what kind of city manager they want going into the interview process, the better the process will proceed — and the better the final choice will be.

“Spend less time thinking about what you liked or didn’t like about the last city manager and more time thinking about what Pasadena will need during the next five years,” Cole said.

Mermell announced his retirement Monday night. He will leave the city on Dec. 2. His exit will come less than a month after Assistant City Manager Julie Gutierrez leaves the city on Nov. 18.

“Steve has served our city well over several decades, from his early days as an administrative analyst in Pasadena Water & Power to his recent tenure as city manager,” said Mayor Gordo. “We wish Steve and his family the very best as he brings his career to a close in Pasadena and thank him for his many years of service.

“Now it is time to turn our attention to the many important issues facing our city and its residents today — addressing homelessness and housing, economic development, public safety, and ensuring our youth, particularly our youngest, have the support needed to address the impacts of the pandemic. Steve is leaving the city well prepared to face these challenges effectively,” Gordo said.

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