Top administrator, who guided city through turmoil, headed to Burlingame

Top administrator, who guided city through turmoil, headed to Burlingame

Michele Ellson

A top administrator who guided City Hall through a tumultuous time will be taking the helm of the City of Burlingame.

Assistant City Manager Lisa Goldman was reportedly the Burlingame City Council’s unanimous choice for city manager, putting her ahead of 55 other applicants for the job. That city’s leaders are set to vote on a contract for Goldman today, and she’ll start on December 27.

“It’s going to be hard to leave Alameda,” Goldman said Friday. “I have a lot of heart and soul I put into Alameda. A lot of good friends. But it’s exciting, the opportunity I really couldn’t pass up.”

City Manager John Russo said he’ll start a recruitment process to fill Goldman’s position, which had her overseeing Alameda’s finance, human resources, library, park and recreation and public works departments, and that he hopes to have someone new by February as the city begins work on a proposed new two-year budget. He said Deputy City Manager Alex Nguyen will oversee public works after Goldman leaves.

“Lisa Goldman is a top shelf public servant. Burlingame is very fortunate to be getting her as their chief executive officer,” Russo, who called Goldman a "hard worker," who helped him work through a number of "legacy issues" here, said. “All of her friends and colleagues here in Alameda wish her well and know from firsthand experience what a great job she is going to do.”

Mayor Marie Gilmore, who tapped Goldman to run City Hall at the end of 2010 while a new, permanent city manager was sought, said she too will miss the assistant city manager.

“We're very happy for her. It's a wonderful opportunity,” Gilmore said in response to an e-mail from a reporter. “Lisa was a great asset to the city and we are going to miss her professionally and I will miss her personally. I wish her all the best in her new position.”

A Harvard graduate and Southern California native with a masters in public policy from the University at California, Berkeley, Goldman came to Alameda in February 2007 after working in a string of government positions, most recently as intergovernmental relations manager for the City of Fremont. Her tasks here have included assembling the city’s annual budget and overseeing efforts to hire a private operator for the Chuck Corica Golf Course. Recently, she chaired a city task force that investigated the city’s pension and retiree benefit obligations and also solutions for addressing those costs.

In the final days of 2010 she was thrust into the city manager’s chair after the council majority voted to put Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant on leave for the remainder of her contract and to not renew it for an additional term. During her six months in that position she was responsible for creating a new city budget, restarting stalled contract negotiations with the city’s public safety unions and managing the initial fallout from the Memorial Day death of Raymond Zack in the waters off Robert W. Crown State Beach.

“There was a lot of turmoil, and she managed the organization through the turmoil,” Russo said. “It was a difficult time and she proved she was capable of being a number one.”

Goldman said that she’ll be the fourth city manager in Burlingame’s history, replacing Jim Nantell, who’s been the Peninsula city of 29,000's manager for a dozen years.

“There’s a lot of real stability in the organization,” she said.

Russo said that Goldman would be hard to replace but that he and other city staffers are happy for her and will soon celebrate her ascent into her new job.

“I learned a lot while I was here. I really grew a lot personally and professionally,” Goldman said. “And I really appreciate the support of the community, especially when I was acting city manager. I appreciate the staff who work here. They are hard-working and were very supportive of me during my time here.”