HomeCity Government NewsCommunity Celebrates Longtime City Manager

Community Celebrates Longtime City Manager


Friends, family and colleagues new and old gathered at City Hall to celebrate outgoing City Manager Mark Alexander, who retires in June from the position after more than three decades at the helm.
Guests enjoyed the sound of Beatles music from a live band and the opportunity to meet USC’s Traveler, the mascot from Alexander’s alma mater, at the party on April 13.
For nearly 34 years, Alexander dedicated his working life to LCF. He was the sixth city manager for the town and held other positions here prior, which included assistant city manager, deputy city attorney, assistant to the city manager and administrative assistant. Serving the city since 1988, Alexander became city manager in 2003.
Before LCF, Alexander held positions with the cities of San Dimas, Glendora and Simi Valley. But perhaps the starting point of his professional life began when he was just 14 years old and was appointed to a four-year term on the San Dimas Juvenile Justice Commission.
At his party last week, the congratulatory train kicked off with a video of compiled messages from interns who worked for Alexander, which included Deputy Director of Administrative Services Arabo Parseghian and Senior Management Analyst Christina Nguyen.
“I consider you a friend and a mentor and I always had fun sparring with you about public policy,” said state Sen. Anthony Portantino. “It takes a rare person to just put the interests of the community ahead.”
Portantino honored Alexander with a California State Senate recognition resolution to commemorate Alexander’s tenure.
Former LCF Mayor Steve Del Guercio and other council members spoke about Alexander and how they convinced him to take the city manager position in 2003. Guercio shared how he persuaded Alexander to become city manager rather than city attorney.
“Why in the world would you want to put yourself in the position of taking orders from the city manager when you can be the city manager and be the one giving the orders and making the ultimate decisions?” Guercio recalled. “Mark, I hope that looking back, you feel that it was the best decision for you personally as well, and I wish you all the best in your retirement.”
LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette shared a few words about Alexander.
“You’ve taught me a lot. Your unwavering service to the city, its citizens, all the organizations and businesses and especially our school district … He’s a dedicated leader. He’s an impressive intellect and I think we can all vouch for that. He’s a formidable negotiator, and he’s somebody who always gets the job done. I’ve been superintendent 12 years and I think every single year he has taught me greatly,” said Sinnette.
Sinnette presented Alexander with a plaque thanking him for his service and a gift that consisted of a pickleball paddle and turf builder to represent the recent challenges they had to face together for the city.
Mayor Keith Eich offered the following sentiment to his colleague: “This is bittersweet. I have really enjoyed working with you [Mark], you’ve been a pillar in our community for five decades. … I’m filled with gratitude for all you have done and humbled to have known you. Thank you for all you have done for our community and our city. I’m going to miss you, your presence, your consistency, and your leadership.”
Officials from the Los Angeles County Fire and Sheriff’s departments spoke about Alexander’s great partnerships with their agencies. Retired Fire Chief Daryl Osby and CV Sheriff’s Station Captain Robert Hahnlein were among those who honored the outgoing city manager.
LCF Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Pat Anderson teared up when speaking about Alexander because of the bond they shared.
“Mark and I started our jobs on the same day, and so, June 16 of 2003 has always been an anniversary for us and it’s going to be strange not celebrating that going forward. But thank you for all those years,” said Anderson, who wished Alexander the very best for the future.
“When I first heard about it, I couldn’t believe it. But I’m trying to get used to the idea,” Anderson told the Outlook Valley Sun.
She gave Alexander a new typewriter because he used to borrow the Chamber’s typewriter after he got rid of his.
The LCF Community Center gifted Alexander a ceramic vase made by the teachers there.
“The community center has been around 70 years, and I guess you’ve been there for a lot of those. Lots of changes at the community center over the past 35 years… We are grateful for the time that you’ve spent helping the community center grow and thrive,” said Executive Director of the LCF Community Center Betsy Ferguson.
The current City Council gifted Alexander a 34-year service pin to add to his collection of service pins.
“You’ve taught me so much. You’ve been such a wonderful mentor. You’ve taught me the true meaning of integrity, loyalty, kindness [and] caring of your staff. You are the ultimate,” said Councilwoman Terry Walker.
When Walker asked Alexander what he will be doing during his retirement, Alexander said that he would be doing pro bono law work for nonprofit organizations.
After the speeches concluded, Alexander spoke a few words of his own. He started off by saying that parties like this “are not really his thing” but appreciates all the hard work that went into it.
“I certainly appreciate all of you being here tonight to share this evening with me. It means so much to me personally to have all my friends together in one room. It’s just a very unique and memorable moment,” said Alexander.
“If I get a little emotional during this, I apologize but this is only because this makes it all the more real. Doing the work that I’ve loved and doing it over these past 40 years and seeing and working with the people who I’ve truly enjoyed working with every day… It’s becoming real. It’s truly coming to an end,” said Alexander.
He introduced his family who attended, including his brothers, nephews, cousin, aunt and mother. He also spoke about the family members who had passed away during his time in LCF, and how much they meant to him.
“My uncle Reuben passed in 2003, one month before I became city manager. … One of the things that I remember most about my uncle is that he worked at his job for more than 30 years, and I thought how remarkable is that? To work at a job for 30 years. So, I guess I know what that’s like now,” he said.
Alexander became emotional as he spoke about the many mentors in his life, his mother being the most impactful.
“She’s the one who would drive me to City Hall when I was 14 years old and I couldn’t ride my bike. She would wait outside until my meeting was over and give me a ride home. She always pushed me to pursue things that I dreamt of, and who taught me the value of hard work and most importantly, integrity and responsibility. Very, very blessed to have this woman as my mother — thank you mom,” he said.
He talked about what City Hall was like back when he first started, when there were only 10 people on the staff and “no one knew that City Hall even existed.”
“Today, as we approach our 47th birthday, we have grown to 27 full-time employees. We have this beautiful new City Hall that I am so proud to have been a part of. It’s a modern City Hall. Every employee has a computer on their desk. … and people know City Hall exists. I can honestly say now that we are for real,” said Alexander.
Alexander ended by saying that LCF will always be his home as he prepares to retire.
“Thank you all so very much for allowing me the honor of a lifetime, literally, to be a part of this, [and] building this terrific home we call La Cañada Flintridge,” said Alexander.
Remarks, gift and awards of recognition also came from state Assemblyman Chris Holden, former La Cañada Flintridge City Council members Laura Olhasso and Steve Del Guercio, San Gabriel Valley City Managers’ Association President Jessica Binnquist, Municipal Management Association of Southern California President Dominique Samario, and Susan Koleda on behalf of La Cañada Flintridge city staff.

First published in the April 20 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]