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Mark Denny, Dana Point City Manager

By Kristina Pritchett

Mark Denny, the deputy city manager, was named Dana Point’s new city manager on Tuesday, July 18.

His contract was approved by a 5-0 vote during the meeting. However, city attorney Patrick Munoz said the council voted 3-2 in favor of hiring Denny for the role. Mayor Debra Lewis and Mayor Pro Tem Paul Wyatt voted against the action.

Wyatt said he thought there was a number of candidates that he felt fulfilled the role’s qualifications.

“I felt we had better candidates than Mr. Denny to make the offer to,” Wyatt said. “I worked with Mr. Denny on a number of items up to date with very positive results and I will do a 110 percent [job] to make sure he is wildly successful.”

Lewis said she voted no because she felt the hiring process was not what was agreed upon.

“It is my impression being privy to the process and debates in closed session that a candidate from outside the city was not likely to be hired,” Lewis said. “I firmly believe that the integrity of the process and the council’s decision making must be trustworthy, particularly when the decision occurs behind closed doors.”

She added that she too plans to work closely with Denny to ensure his success.

“I am grateful to the City Council for this opportunity,” Denny said in a statement. “It is a great city, with great people, and I am excited about what the future holds.”

Mike Killebrew has been acting city manager since November 2016 when long-time city manager Doug Chotkevys announced his resignation in-lieu of termination.

A few weeks before Chotkevys left his position, the role of deputy city manager was created during a reorganization of staff. A week later, the city announced Denny, who previously was the Orange County Chief Operating Officer, would fill that role.

Denny has also served as the Director of OC Parks and served as the Interim Director of the Dana Point Harbor department for a short period of time.

The application process closed on March 17 and since then, Council had been in closed session meetings to find a candidate.

Denny has a four-year contract for the City Manager position and the base salary, exclusive of benefits, is $225,000 per year. The city is also providing Denny a vehicle, which the city will maintain and pay for the liability, property damage and comprehensive insurance as well as pay for the automobile purchase, gas, operation, maintenance, repair or replacement of the city provided vehicle. According to the contract, at the end of its existing life, Denny will receive an automobile allowance rather than be provided a vehicle.

During Denny’s first day of work, on Wednesday, July 19, he announced he has appointed City Engineer Matt Sinacori to Public Works Director.

According to city officials, $241,000 in gross savings will occur due to Denny taking the city manager role and the deputy city manager role will not be filled.

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comments (3)

  • Way to support your new city manager Wyatt and Lewis! Nice job setting him up for success by publicly disparaging the process. Way to make someone feel welcome. Congratulations Mark Denny and good luck–sounds like you are going to need it!

    • Maria, I applaud anyone who increases the transparency of government. Residents of the city should know if anyone – city council members, staff, etc. – stacked the deck in favor of a particular candidate instead of seeking the best candidate possible.

      Keep in mind that Mr. Denny was brought in just before our previous city manager left, and put in a position that was created for him. That position is now going away. It looks like our legacy councilmen Muller, Viczorek, and Tomlinson pre-selected Denny for the role as soon as they knew the previous manager was leaving, well before this search process began. That’s bad government.

      I hope Mr. Denny succeeds, but the way he was hired was wrong. Mayor Lewis calling that out in the interests of transparency is much more important to me than making a new city employee “feel welcome.”

  • I am also disturbed by the process, and by Patrick Munoz public input. To me it shows Paul Munzo to be disparaging our Mayor and Paul Wyatt for abiding by the rules. I keep hoping we will employ a new City Attorney. Our current CA has been paid $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for —— to my way of thinking———very poor results. Just saying.

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