As San Mateo’s new permanent city manager, Larry Patterson will have one unique responsibility — filling his own shoes.
The Public Works director who has been serving as the interim city manager since November will now be charged with picking his replacement.
“That’s advantageous to the city because Larry will know what skills are necessary,” said Mayor Robert Ross.
Those are skills that Patterson holds himself and a large reason why Ross said city officials agreed that the best person for the job was the one who has been doing it for four months.
“It’s a totality of things. Larry has truly made himself an invaluable asset to the city,” Ross said.
The city announced Patterson’s naming on Thursday but the choice won’t be official until after Monday night’s council meeting to approve the hiring and $240,000 salary. Unlike his predecessor Susan Loftus, Patterson will not be able to accrue unlimited sick time that can be paid out upon his exit.
Patterson has been involved in every major Public Works initiative in the city and is mentally up on all pertinent issues from the sewer system to high-speed rail, Ross said.
“He’s someone you almost have to catch up to,” Ross said.
The city conducted a nationwide search before settling on Patterson and top candidates were interviewed by panels of representatives from the city’s homeowners associations, businesses, labor groups and the City Council itself.
Patterson said he was “very excited” by the offer and continues to be more and more excited about the opportunity to serve as city manager. The position is one he’s wanted since first joining the city although he wasn’t sure what path would get him there. Now, he said he’s thrilled not only to have the chance but the confidence to take it on.
Patterson has a bachelor’s of arts in civil engineering and a master’s degree in civil and transportation engineering. Prior to joining the city, he founded Patterson Associates, a transportation engineering consulting firm. He has served as San Mateo’s Public Works director for 13 years, overseeing a department of 130 employees, a $12 million annual operating budget and an annual capital improvement budget of $12 million to $30 million.
The city went through some tough times but is now entering a more positive fiscal era, Patterson said.
“It’s like we can now look out the front windshield instead of the rearview mirror,” he said.
He said the city organization is also eager to move to a new place as well which he feels his familiarity with the basic principals and players will aid.
During his interim period, Patterson had a list of goals like auditing the Community Development Department and launching the North B Street Improvement Initiative.
Patterson said the initiative is one that brings particular pride because it is a successful model that can be used in other areas like the 25th Avenue business area.
But although Patterson is all but officially the new city manager, he’s still keeping the “interim” title on his voice mail.
“I figured I’d better wait until after the council approves the agreement Monday night,” he said.
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