The San Ramon City Council looked within to find its short-term replacement for retiring City Manager Greg Rogers, voting Monday to appoint police chief Joe Gorton as the interim city manager effective July 1.
"He was a unanimous choice. We were very, very confident," Mayor Bill Clarkson said after the council's closed-session decision.
Clarkson said Gorton was the top candidate because of his knowledge of the city, experience with city staff, steady and gracious leadership style, and ability to explain topics to residents.
The mayor also pointed to Gorton's "extensive education background and his leadership in being the city's police chief ... and he has the people skills that are so important in working with the public."
Looking ahead to becoming the city's top administrator, Gorton said, "I'm looking forward to it, and I'm excited about the position ... My primary goal will be to hold down the fort and deliver the same quality services we had under Greg Rogers."
Rogers announced last month that he would retire June 30 to end a 25-year career in government, including the past 13 years with the city of San Ramon. He has served as city manager since April 2011.
That left the City Council to decide the path to find a successor, and the five councilmen opted to fill the position on a temporary basis for now.
They offered Gorton the interim city manager position after closed-session deliberations at City Hall on Monday. Clarkson said the council considered multiple candidates but declined to identify the others, citing confidentiality for the hiring process.
Gorton, 50, has worked in law enforcement for more than 28 years. He started working for the San Ramon Police Department when it was established in 2007, and he has been the city's police chief since late 2013.
With his tenure as interim city manager set to start in less than a month, Gorton said he has the advantage of already being part of the city's executive management team and having key background and understanding of San Ramon's city government.
"I have a pretty good feel for where we are and where we need to go," he added.
Gorton will still be responsible for overseeing the police department, but he could delegate those tasks to other police managers or appoint an acting police chief. The department has one captain and six lieutenants.
He said he hopes to determine whether and how to reorganize the police department by August. "I'm confident we will be able to keep the boat afloat," he added.
The interim contract Gorton signed Monday calls for him to receive a $21,616 monthly salary in his new position.
The agreement remains in effect until the City Council hires a permanent city manager or chooses to remove Gorton as the interim. He would have the ability to return as police chief.
As for recruitment of a permanent city manager, Clarkson said, "At this stage, we have no timeline established."
The mayor added that the council has had a conversation about possibly waiting to begin the hiring search until after the city elections in November. Clarkson's position as mayor and two council seats -- now held by vice mayor Scott Perkins and Councilman Phil O'Loane -- are up for election this fall.
Gorton said he is open to the possibility of applying to become the permanent city manager, depending on how his interim tenure goes.
"It's important to find out if I'm the right fit," he said. "If it felt right, I might throw my hat into the ring."