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Chamber CEO abruptly steps down

ENCINITAS — In a move that surprised many, Chamber of Commerce CEO Gary Tucker resigned effective Feb. 6. After two years as the top staff member at the chamber, Tucker said it was time to pursue other opportunities in the private sector.
Tucker replaced former chamber CEO Keith Turner after his resignation was accepted by the board of directors in February 2006. No replacement for Tucker has been named.
In the resignation letter Tucker sent to the board Jan. 23, he cites declining revenue from returning members, loss of faith in the board’s leadership and the executive committee’s refusal to follow the bylaws of the organization as reasons for his departure.
However, in an interview, Tucker remained vague on the details of the disagreements between himself and the volunteer board. Instead, he framed the relationship in philosophical terms. “I was looking for a little more engagement with the board,” he said. “I think I like to move a little quicker than others.”
Tucker said the goals set by the board when he was hired have essentially been met. “We moved to our new location at Second and H (streets),” he said. The new downtown offices also house the Visitor’s Center, which the city has paid the chamber to operate since 1990. “That’s good for local businesses,” Councilman Jerome Stocks said.
According to Tucker, events sponsored by the chamber including the State of the City address, installation dinners, Oktoberfest and monthly networking events for members have increased in popularity.
Tucker said the uncertain economic climate presents many challenges to local businesses and to the chamber. “We’re looking at retaining current members and bringing in new members,” he said. In his letter, Tucker said his efforts over the past six months to convince the executive committee of the gravity of declining revenue fell on deaf ears. “I have seen no plan or any significant efforts to address this crucial matter,” he wrote.
Executive board president Ken Gross of Wealth Management Associates, Inc. did not return calls for comment.
“I think the chamber could be a great organization,” Stocks said. “They could have a real role in our community.”
Deputy Mayor Dan Dalager, who was a founding member of the chamber and board member for six years, said he expects the transition to go smoothly. “When I was on the board we had three CEOs resign without replacements and life went on,” he said. “I have a lot of faith in the business community.”
Dody Tucker, Gary’s wife, is the executive director of the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association. The two have been fixtures in the community since 1979. “For 22 years we owned and operated two separate businesses in downtown historical Encinitas, the Moonlight Beach 7-Eleven and the Safeguard Company on 2nd Street,” he said.