OCEANSIDE — City Council decided at its Aug. 21 meeting to hire Assistant City Manager Deanna Lorson as the next city manager.
Council members voted unanimously in a closed session to stop the city’s search for a new city manager and to have Lorson take over once current City Manager Michelle Skaggs Lawrence retires in October.
“I am honored and humbled that the City Council has selected me as the next City Manager,” Lorson told The Coast News via email. “I look forward to working with them to lead this City and continue the transformation that is underway.”
Lorson first became Oceanside’s assistant city manager on Feb. 1, 2016. Prior to that, she served as Riverside’s assistant city manager for more than four years. Altogether she has more than 30 years experience working in local government.
When Skaggs Lawrence announced her retirement, Lorson said she shared her interest in becoming city manager. Instead of going through a formal application process, the city decided to cease its search and go with Lorson.
For Mayor Peter Weiss, Lorson had “everything we were looking for” in a city manager. Her selection will also help the transition between two city managers easier given she has already been working for the city.
Weiss said the unanimous decision to promote Lorson speaks highly of her ability to work with all five council members.
“I think she will be successful and good for the city,” Weiss said. “We’ve done a good job picking her.”
The city manager reports directly to council and has responsibility for all city operations besides the city attorney’s office.
“As Assistant City Manager I directed the City’s economic development program including overseeing the Development Services, Public Works and Water Utilities departments, and the economic development and information technology divisions under Michelle’s leadership,” Lorson said in an email. “As City Manager I will be directly accountable to the City Council and will also oversee Police and Fire, Finance, Human Resources, Library and Neighborhood Services.”
According to Skaggs Lawrence, Lorson is the “perfect replacement” for her.
“I trust that Deanna will continue with all of the good work happening in the community and will expertly oversee the transformation that is underway,” Skaggs Lawrence said in an email.
Lorson said her predecessor has been a “great mentor” to her, calling Skaggs Lawrence the “consummate public servant.”
“She cares deeply about Oceanside and I hope to make her proud,” Lorson said about Skaggs Lawrence.
As assistant city manager, Lorson is paid $209,932 annually. According to Weiss, Lorson has agreed to the same $254,527 annual salary that Skaggs Lawrence is currently paid.
A proposed contract for Lorson will be placed on the upcoming Sept. 11 council agenda.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son