Huntington Beach

Fred Wilson retires as city manager

FRED WILSON (left) and Mayor Erik Peterson look over a proclamation honoring Wilson for his 10 years of service as Huntington Beach City Manager (Orange County Tribune photo).

By Jim Tortolano

The council chamber was packed Monday night as a farewell was bid to Fred Wilson, who is retiring this week as Huntington Beach’s city manager.

Wilson, who has spent 10 years in the post as the top appointed official of “Surf City,” was showered with proclamations and praise.

“Thank you for your years of leadership and leading us in the right direction,” said Mayor Erik Peterson.

After getting enough framed resolutions and hardware to open a small stationary store, Wilson had the last word.

“I’ve sat in this council chamber … 295 times,” Wilson said. Reflecting on his first appearance there in 2008, he said that the meeting ran just 45 minutes “and I thought, this place is great.”

Huntington Beach council meetings typically run several hours long.

“When I got here in 2008, we were suffering the effects of the Great Recession, but with the help of the employees and everyone, we worked our way through that without making any major service reductions and without raising taxes,” he recalled.

During Wilson’s tenure as city manager, the city not only weathered the financial crisis, but also saw the completion of the Pacific City development on Pacific Coast Highway, the opening of an expansive new senior citizen center and more.

“A lot of good things happened through those years, and a lot of it happened because of a team,” he said, referring to top city staff. “Whoever follows me will be in a good position to lead the city forward.”

Set to serve as interim city manager is Lori Ann Farrell-Harrison, but perhaps not for long. The Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday will vote on a contract for her to become the city manager of that city.


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