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One of the best things that can be said about Anaheim City Manager Marcie Edwards is that she did not want to be City Manager of Anaheim.
She was appointed Interim City Manager last May, after Bob Wingenroth’s Surprise (that’s the Arizona city for which he left) departure. Then, as Adam Elmahrek reported last July in the Voice of OC, she accepted the permanent position:
The Anaheim City Council in a unanimous vote Tuesday night appointed interim City Manager Marcie Edwards permanently to the job, a move that counters statements Edwards made in May that she wasn’t interested in the position.
The appointment came after former City Manager Bob Wingenroth left for a position in Surprise, Ariz., just before the Anaheim council considered a controversial $158-million room tax subsidy that he had opposed last year. Wingenroth’s departure — which he said was made to be close to his extended family — befuddled many, because he had recently purchased a home in the city.
Edwards, who was first appointed interim city manager in May, was muted in her reaction to the announcement of the permanent appointment, which came at the end of a council meeting that went well past 10 p.m.
“The last 60 days I felt like I could make a difference,” Edwards said about changing her mind and pursuing the top spot. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Word around town was that some arm-twisting was involved. This afternoon, we learned that she’s getting a great and prestigious new job: a high profile gig leading the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Edwards previously ran the Anaheim Public Utilities for 13 years, according to the release, as well as spending 24 years at the DWP, where she worked as an assistant general manager in marketing and customer service. She started with DWP when she was 19 as a clerk typist before working her way through the ranks and into management.
Edwards comes into a DWP that’s faced controversy since September of last year. Two nonprofit trusts set up by the city and the DWP’s labor union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, received $40 million of public money for training and safety without a full accounting of how it was being spent, according to the Los Angeles Times. Nichols, who leaves the agency Friday, denies that his departure has anything to do with that controversy.
For someone with her background — a career at DWP and then more than a dozen years in a position running Anaheim’s utilities, to which she recently saw her chosen successor appointed — running a high profile and important organization like DWP must be a dream job. Of course, it also may be a dream job because it gets her out of Anaheim, which, in addition to Wingenroth, has in the past year driven off its previous City Attorney Cristina Talley and Police Chief Paul Welter as well.
I’ve been a nominal antagonist to Edwards during her tenure, because her job has been to protect the City’s interests as she saw them — or, rather, as the Council Majority saw them. When she swooped in and said that she’d already pushed for a properly qualified appraisal of the City’s property in the Ground Lease Giveaway around Angels Stadium, she showed her strength and good judgment. She has also had a reputation for fairness and competence, and I imagine that the position she now prepares to leave has not been the most comfortable one for someone with such an orientation.
I think that Anaheim will miss her — I’m afraid that it’s going to miss her terribly, depending on her replacement — but LADWP needs someone who knows how to deal with crisis. Anaheim has certainly prepared her for that. Good luck to her — and, more pointedly, good luck to Anaheim in replacing her.