Sonoma City Council gives notice to interim city manager, hires former Windsor top admin
Interim Sonoma City Manager Sue Casey on Friday was given notice of her termination by the Sonoma City Council during a special closed-session meeting.
Casey, Sonoma’s third city manager since the end of 2020, will be placed on paid administrative leave for the next 30 days, Sonoma City Attorney Jeffrey Walter said. The City Council plans to review a contract next week to hire Mark Linder, the former city manager of Windsor, as her replacement.
At least four closed special meetings were held by the council in the last two months to evaluate Casey’s performance. Council members did not publicly offer an official reason for her termination.
“This is a very special period of time,” Mayor Jack Ding said Friday. “We need a person that's very strong, very firm and sometimes make tough decisions.”
Casey, a former assistant Sonoma city manager, took over the interim position May 18. She was preceded by Garrett Toy, who departed Feb. 16 after six months, and David Kiff, who served for six months following the late 2020 retirement of City Manager Cathy Capriola.
“Ultimately, our council unanimously felt this was the best decision for the interests of the city,” Vice Mayor Kelso Barnett said.
The council will review a contract with Linder on Wednesday at its next regularly scheduled meeting. If approved, Linder would begin Jan. 2, 2023, and serve until a permanent replacement is found. Sonoma Development Services Director Wayne Wirick will step into the role in the meantime.
Barnett and Ding said Linder’s hiring would help the city transition through some crucial moments, namely welcoming new members to city council, as well as a new police chief, and amid various staff retirements.
“This is a very challenging period of time,” Ding said. “After wildfires, the pandemic, and a lot of the staff come and go, and many directors are retiring.”
Barnett said the leadership Linder demonstrated while in Windsor offered confidence that he could bring similar structure to Sonoma. Linder began his tenure as Windsor’s top admin after the scandal of former Mayor Dominic Fappoli who was accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault and rape.
Council members said Linder’s resume and accomplishments would be helpful to the city moving forward.
“He’s very experienced,” council member Sandra Lowe said following the announcement.
With three new city council members to be sworn in Dec. 7, Barnett said he believes the decision to replace Casey is in the city’s best interest.
“We wanted him to bring (Linder’s) wisdom to not just run our city,” Barnett said, “but embed himself within our organization and serve as … an interim city manager and an organizational consultant and tell the future Council what is working, what's not working, and pass off the city better than we found it to the permanent city manager.”
Contact Chase Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @Chase_HunterB on Twitter.
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