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During its March 3 meeting, the Dana Point City Council confirmed the appointment of Mike Killebrew as city manager and approved a three-year employment agreement with him. Killebrew is the first resident chosen to lead the city. He has held the role of Dana Point’s Assistant City Manager and Director of Administrative Services for more than 12 years.
“As a longtime resident of Dana Point, I can think of no greater honor than to now serve as city manager and work alongside the leadership of our mayor and city council in fulfilling the vision for this great city and its residents,” said Killebrew.
Prior to the council vote, multiple people spoke during public comment in support of Killebrew’s proposed promotion, including Terry Rifkin, who serves as chair for the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group and is a member of the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club. “Mike is a rainmaker,” Rifkin said. “A person whose influence can initiate progress or ensure success. Mike is a force. He does not have an ego, and he does not have to take credit.”
Prior to joining the City of Dana Point, Killebrew served as Chief Financial Officer, controller and as an auditor for the City of Long Beach. He was named 2019 Dana Point Citizen of the Year, and has been a dedicated leader in local government as well as local nonprofit and civic organizations. Killebrew is the President of the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, was named twice as Rotarian of the Year, and has supported Fish for Life, Boys and Girls Club, 5th Marines Support Group and VFW Post 9934, among others.
“Mike’s strong character, values and experience will ensure Dana Point is an amazing place to live and a sought-after choice for business. He leads by example, and I am excited to work with Mike on serving our community,” said Mayor Richard Viczorek.
However, not all in the council meeting shared the approving sentiment. During council discussion, Councilmember Debra Lewis expressed her concerns for the city’s management style.
“Unlike the majority, I believe that being brought up and steeped in the city’s culture for so long actually works against Mr. Killebrew as an appropriate choice,” Lewis said. “I, looking forward, will be looking for management that is proactive and apolitical. These are two things I have had concerns about in the past.”
Lewis stated her belief was that good management anticipates future financial issues and “sounds the alarm” when expenses may come close to exceeding revenue.
“If you look at our (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), you will see that our expenses and revenue have been increasing in a rate where expenses exceed revenue at some point with the crossover. I believe in the past, the city did not issue warnings loudly enough and publicly enough that we are now on the precipice of,” Lewis said. “These are the kinds of things I want to hear loudly and clearly. This is coming, here is what we can do, here is what the ramifications are if we don’t do things.”
Lewis pointed to the city not raising fees for 20 years. According to hired consultants, the city potentially left $2 million a year on the table. She also emphasized her belief that city management should remain apolitical.
Killebrew did not have comment in response to Lewis’s statements behind the dais.
The current city manager, Mark Denny, will serve in his role until April 3. Denny accepted a city manager position with City of Fontana.
Lillian Boyd Lillian Boyd is the senior editor for Picket Fence Media and city editor for Dana Point Times. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University. Her work experience includes interviewing incarcerated individuals in the Los Angeles County jails, an internship at the Pentagon covering U.S. Army news as well as reporting and anchoring for a local news radio station in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @Lillianmboyd and follow Dana Point Times at @danapointtimes.