This article ran in the January 6th edition of the West Sacramento New-Ledger. (external link) Their site will be updated soon, until then, it appears here.
Retired Assistant City Manager Carol Richardson Looks Back
by Thomas Farley
Carol Richardson retired last September after 28 ½ years as West Sacramento’s Assistant City Manager. She started in 1987 when West Sacramento was incorporated, folding into single governance the towns of, Broderick, Bryte, Washington, and Southport. She reflected on her career for the News-Ledger.
Richardson was hired by Gene Roh who was the first City Manager. Did the job description actually match the job? “There was no job description! We were putting together a city organization and that was part of it. In those early days we all did what had to be done to get the job done. I really had no idea what I was getting in to. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun.” Carol would eventually work for four City Managers. “They all were unique in their management style but very competent. The City Councils had an uncanny ability to pick the right City Manager for the times facing the City. I was fortunate that all of the Managers gave me a chance. That is not always the case.”
Along the way there were numerous memories and milestones. Like that day in December, 1999 when she picked up the phone. “I just got home from City Manager Joe Goeden’s Christmas party and he called. He said there was flooding at City Hall on Stone Boulevard and he needed me early the next morning. I had no idea it was as bad as it was. Someone had turned on the fire hose on the 3rd floor and let it run. The building and everything in it was trashed. Luckily, Joe called the IT Manager Drew Gidlof that night and he went in and removed the servers and hardware. Asbestos complicated the recovery. We fully intended to move back in initially but various circumstances led us to stay in our temporary quarters until the new City Hall on West Capitol was built. Our improvised Council Chambers was in the center of the room with a makeshift dais. The offices and cubicles were all around. It was one of those disasters that brought everyone together and had a happy ending.”
As with any City, there were always contentious issues. The casino planned for the area IKEA now occupies was one. “The Councils were very committed to that area being a retail center. Prior to the casino there was a push to rezone the area for offices as some thought retail was a pie in the sky dream. The Council at that time resisted in spite of a lot of pressure from some. They stuck to their vision and it paid off.”
The Rivercats entry into West Sacramento was equally challenging. “Those were difficult times. So much was on the line for everyone involved. Again, while the Council wanted the team and stadium they were not going to compromise their policies and principles to get it. City Manager Joe Goeden deserves a great deal of credit.”
What were her most important personal accomplishments? “I am most proud of helping to build the City organization and helping to hire some of the great people who have worked there and some who still do. I am also proud of working with others on the Civic Center and assisting with the City’s Early Learning Team.
She says the City’s outlook is bright. “I think there will be more entertainment and restaurants in the City’s future. And the streetcar, waterfront development, and the Washington District are all coming along. So many good things are coming to West Sacramento.”