New Face in PG
Ex-assistant County administrator chosen as city manager.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
<>>Jim Colangelo, former assistant county administrator, will succeed Ross Hubbard as Pacific Grove’s next city manager, beginning in July.
Hubbard, who gave six months’ notice in January, has held the post since 2000. His five-year tenure was marked by controversy and ended in highly-publicized conflict with the City Council. In his letter of resignation, Hubbard wrote, “It is important to the community that the council and staff work in concert. I believe that my retirement will afford the current council the opportunity to choose a city manager that can help heal the divisions.”
Although the council selected Colangelo over several other candidates earlier this month, final contract negotiations have been delayed by the May 14 death of Colangelo’s wife, Candia Colangelo.
Despite this sudden tragedy, Colangelo says he’s focused on the job ahead. In a recent interview with the Weekly, Colangelo cited “building trust” as a top priority.
“I want to work on making government as transparent as possible so the public knows that they are involved in the process,” Colangelo says. “I want to get out and meet as many people as possible and let them tell me what the city does and doesn’t do well.”
Colangelo also notes the hot-button issues he’ll face in the months ahead, including the city’s budget, the golf course clubhouse and the sewers.
“I want to take a hard look at the budget, see how we stand in that regard, making sure that fiscally everything is sound,” he says. “The golf course issue is sort of a done deal, but I’ll definitely be taking a look at the revenue potential of the golf course.”
Back in November, PG voters narrowly defeated Measure I, the open space initiative that would have prevented the extensive golf clubhouse remodel. City officials are also considering raising municipal green fees, in order to bring more money into city coffers.
As for the city’s perennial sewer problem, Colangelo says he senses a lot of frustration from the public.
“A lot of money has been generated through fees and the perception seems to be that not a lot of work has been done,” he says. “We’ll see if that perception’s true. If it is, we’re going to make changes. If it’s not true then we’ll want to document and publicize all the work done to date on the sewers.”
But while discussing some of the challenges of his new job, Colangelo admits that life seems “so surreal at this point” following his wife’s sudden illness and death.
Candia Colangelo became sick on May 9. Less than a week later, she died.
“She got flu-like symptoms on Monday night,” Colangelo says. “By Tuesday, she’d had a seizure and we took her to the emergency room at CHOMP.”
Although her heart was not functioning properly, it was clear to doctors at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula that Candia had not suffered a heart attack, Colangelo says. On May 11, with her condition deteriorating rapidly, she was flown to the Stanford University Medical Center.
On May 12 and May 13, Colangelo says doctors, including one of the top infection specialists in the world, were still struggling to identify his wife’s mysterious ailment. When she died on May 14, he says, the doctors were certain it wasn’t an infection, but couldn’t explain the cause of death.
“They didn’t know what it was,” Colangelo says. “All of her major organs had failed.”
Doctors performed an autopsy last week and discovered tumors on Candia’s adrenal glands.
“When these glands are damaged,” Colangelo says, “it releases a bunch of adrenaline through the body and they think this may be responsible for the heart attack symptoms and the other damage.”
Citing patient confidentiality laws, Helen Allrich, spokeswoman for the Stanford Hospital, declined to comment on Candia’s death.
County Supervisor Dave Potter, who has worked with Colangelo for the last 10 years, said the tragedy has affected many people in the county.
“I consider him more of a friend than an employee,” Potter said. “The County’s a pretty big family and the general air of sadness and sympathy surrounding Jim’s loss is significant. People sure love Jim and care for him and were upset by this.”
Potter says he is confident Colangelo will make an effective city manager.
“The County’s loss is PG’s gain,” Potter says. “I just hope
he can break through with that council and get them to work
cooperatively in these difficult political and economic
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