Coming to Campbell was like coming home.
The friendly people, sense of community and genuineness appealed to Amy Brown when she first visited Campbell a little more than a year ago. The Kansas City native (on the Kansas side, she clarifies) applied for the City Manager position after Dan Rich announced he'd be leaving for the city of Mountain View. Al Bito served as the Interim City Manager prior to Brown's selection and appointment.
"Campbell is like a little slice of paradise in the Bay Area," Brown says.
On Jan. 18, she announced that she would be leaving her job as Campbell City Manager for a job at the Santa Clara County as the new Director of Agriculture and Environmental Management. She will stay in the Orchard City until end of February.
"It was a great opportunity to have Amy be part of Campbell," said Campbell Mayor Evan Low. "Amy is very collaborative in nature. She has a skill set that was critical in allowing the city to keep moving forward."
Brown’s first day on the job in Campbell was Jan. 9, 2012. Her annual salary: $199,500. Prior to that, she spent 12 years with the city and county of San Francisco.
As Acting City Administrator of the city and county of San Francisco, she managed 26,272 full-time employees and a $6.8 billion annual operating budget. As City Manager of the city of Campbell, Brown managed 151 full-time employees and a $49.5 million combined budget.
Brown begins her new job as Director of Agriculture and Environmental Management at the county of Santa Clara March 1. Her annual salary: $174,814. She replaces Kevin O’Day who retired from the position in October, 2012.
“We’re fortunate to have Brown become a part of our executive management team,” said Jeffrey V. Smith, Santa Clara County Executive in a release. “Both her management and legal experience will be assets to the department.”
Why the Sudden Departure?
Brown has officially been with the city of Campbell for just over a year and although the short tenure was not planned, she says the move is something she has to do.
"I certainly didn’t come down here for a year," she says. "Frankly, I wouldn’t have moved. I was planning on being in Campbell for an indefinite time, certainly longer than a year. I was contacted about this position and it struck some real chords for me."
The new position as the head of the Agriculture Division at the county will have Brown working on animal, sustainability and food policies—all things she feels passionate about.
The move, however is not in line with the International City/County Management Association's Code of Ethics. The ICMA Code of Ethics (with Guidelines) state:
A minimum of two years generally is considered necessary in order to render a professional service to the local government. A short tenure should be the exception rather than a recurring experience. However, under special circumstances, it may be in the best interests of the local government and the member to separate in a shorter time.
Brown points to her 12-year tenure at the city and county of San Francisco as an example of her previous track record and says her time in Campbell was an unexpected exception.
"This was a unique opportunity that in one year wouldn’t be available and I had to seize it," Brown says. "I became an ICMA member (and therefore subject to following this guideline) while working for the city and county of San Francisco, where I worked for over 12 years. So while it was certainly not my intention when I came to Campbell to leave after little more than a year, I have a track record of a long tenure with San Francisco, so my shorter tenure here is certainly the exception, not a recurring experience."
Her move has sparked conversation around town about what this all means to Campbell and Mayor Low says that although he is happy for Brown, he is doing his "due diligence" in the next steps.
"When you hire a city manager, it’s your intention to be with a city manager long term," Low says. "I understand that people’s gut reaction when hearing that Amy was leaving: 'Is there a problem? What is the issue?' I said it myself. But the answer is no.
"This is an experience she can’t pass up because of her passion for the subject matter," he says. "We will work in an expeditious manner to ensure the continuity of the organization."
The Campbell City Council met on Jan. 18 to discuss next steps but because it was a closed session, Low says he cannot disclose what was discussed. A second closed meeting is scheduled for Jan. 28.
"I can say that it is my intent to ensure the continuity of the organization and to move the city forward," Low said.
The city will be using the same executive search firm it did in 2011—Peckham and McKinney—to find the next Campbell City Manager.
"Some people here have mentioned, 'We spent money on a search firm to find her, are we going to have to spend the money again?' This is not the case," Low says. "If a city manager doesn’t last two years, they will do the search again at no cost to the city."
The city of Campbell initially received 60 applications from candidates that all over California and from several other states in 2011.
"Because we already have a search firm and Amy has indicated that she will be here through the end of February, we have some time," Low says.
Brown says there is a lot she will miss when she leaves the Orchard City.
"Definitely the people," she says. "It really is such a warm, sweet place. It’s sometimes hard to believe a place like Campbell still exists in this metropolitan world."
The other things she will miss about her job in Campbell is its location.
"I had the world’s best commute: six minutes if I catch the lightrail and eight if I don’t," Brown says.
But she won't be disappearing from Campbell's radar completely. She will be involved in the Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission at the county, of which Mayor Low is a commissioner.
"I think there will be lots of continued connection with Campbell," she says. "Campbell is truly a wonderful place. This was a personal choice based on personal fit. It’s not at all a reflection of the city of Campbell. Whoever sits in this office next will be a very lucky person.”
Don’t be left out of the conversation in Campbell—Get our daily newsletter delivered | Post an event to our Calendar | Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter | Follow us on Instagram | Start a blog