CARLSBAD — A familiar face is coming back to city hall.
On Wednesday, the city announced Kevin Crawford has been hired as city manager, following an extensive, months long national recruitment process.
Crawford previously served as the city’s fire chief from 2002-13. In late 2013, he temporarily served as city manager before leaving to become the president and CEO of the United Way of San Diego County. In all, Crawford worked for the city of Carlsbad for 28 years.
The city council provided a statement about Crawford’s appointment:
“Carlsbad was fortunate to have a number of highly qualified candidates, although this made our decision all the more difficult. Kevin has nearly three decades of experience working for our city, including serving as a member of the leadership team during numerous significant milestones in the city’s development. In the end, these things, coupled with his collaborative leadership style and deep involvement in the Carlsbad community, made Kevin the right choice at the right time.”
Crawford succeeds Steve Sarkozy, who served as city manager from April 2014 to April 2015. Crawford is expected to begin in mid-February.
“I am very proud to have led the United Way. Our team has accomplished a great deal in the past two years, and I will continue to support its mission,“ Crawford said. “Public service has always been a driving factor for me, both in my personal pursuits and my professional career. When presented with an opportunity to make a lasting and positive contribution to the future of the city I love, I couldn’t say no.”
The city council also praised the work of Assistant City Manager Kathy Dodson, who has been the interim city manager since April 2015. She helped guide the city through the completion of an updated General Plan, first-ever Climate Action Plan in addition to a multimillion-dollar library renovation project. Dodson will continue in her role as assistant city manager once Crawford assumes his position.
Beginning his public safety career in the early 1980s, Crawford initially served as a paramedic with Medivac Ambulance Inc., and in in 1984 transitioned to firefighter/paramedic with the Poway Fire Department. In 1986, he joined the city of Carlsbad Fire Department as a firefighter/paramedic and advanced through the organization, holding positions with increasing levels of leadership responsibility.
In 2002, Crawford was promoted to fire chief. As he concluded his tenure, the fire department had a nearly $18 million budget and a workforce of 200 paid staff and volunteers, consistently earning a 99 percent level of satisfaction from customer service surveys and a reputation for management excellence.
In addition to his role as fire chief, Crawford served on the city of Carlsbad’s leadership team since 2002. In this role, he worked closely with the city manager, city attorney and city department heads to help guide the day-to-day operations of the city, manage key city priorities and serve in an acting capacity when the city manager was unavailable.
Crawford’s leadership and management experience also includes some of the largest wildland fires in California’s history as well as command responsibilities during the Sept. 11, 2001, attack in New York City and Hurricane Katrina. In addition, Crawford has traveled internationally assisting countries prepare, respond to and recover from large-scale emergencies.
Crawford holds a Juris Doctor degree from Western Sierra Law School in San Diego. He attended San Diego State University, completing the Fire Protection Administration program with honors and has an Associate of Arts degree in liberal arts from Santa Ana College.
Crawford has written extensively about leadership, including a book entitled “Chief Reflects on Leadership.” A Carlsbad resident, Crawford is married with four adult children and five grandchildren.