John Kunkel, new interim city manager for Manzanita City Council, began his position on Oct. 19. The city had agreed on a contract for six months, during which Kunkel and staff will look for a permanent city manager.
Kunkel was chief of police for 19 years for the city of Exeter, Calif. and has a Bachelor’s degree in Administrative Justice. He was the city manager for the City of Exeter before moving and becoming the city manager for the city of Buellton from 2009 to 2013.
Regarding his sudden resignation from the City of Buellton, Kunkel said there was a new city council, and in California, that you have to wait at least 90 days before changing city managers. Kunkel said it was after the 90th day mark that he announced his resignation. He added that both he and the new council felt they were not on the same page.
The previous city council had awarded Kunkel a four-year contract a few months before his resignation. Kunkel and the new council agreed to part ways and Kunkel resigned.
“When you’re city manager, you serve the pleasure of the council,” Kunkel said.
Kunkel also has experience as an interim city manager for the city of Kerman, which became a full time city manager position. He retired from this position in November of last year.
Kunkel said Manzanita is a town where everyone knows each other. He believes the city has a very qualified city council.
“It’s been very good,” Kunkel said of his experience in Manzanita so far.
After Kunkel’s contract ends, he plans to move back home to California, where his children and grandchildren live. After the first of the year, the city will make decisions on seeking services or working in-house for the search for the new permanent city manager.
Right now, Kunkel said the city is working on a new resolution for the state of emergency. This includes the rule of all indoor social get-togethers capped at 10 people. The city is also implementing a mask zone regardless if an individual is indoors or walking outside. While working on other projects, Kunkel also continues to work on the day-to-day operations of working for the city.
“We’ve got a great staff here,” Kunkel said.
Due to COVID-19, some staff members are working from home while others have reduced hours in the office.
Kunkel said he enjoys his time in Manzanita. He has been visiting with extended family during his time here.