From bus driver to city manager: Randy Mendosa to retire; last day in July, Arcata City Council looking at options

Arcata City Manager Randy Mendosa announced Wednesday that he will retire in July after serving the city in multiple positions for more than three decades.

"I've worked for the city since 1980," Mendosa said. "One of the things I feel is a part of my decision is we have an exceptional council here. They work so well together and are so experienced. I think it would be best for the city, while they're still here and together, to pick the next city manager."

Once he finishes his last day on July 7, Mendosa said he plans to spend more time with his family and will campaign for Maggie Fleming, who is running for Humboldt County district attorney.

Mendosa began working for Arcata as a bus driver after moving to Arcata in 1978 to attend school at College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State University. He was hired by the police department in 1982, and started working the graveyard shift as an officer.

Over the years, he worked his way up through the ranks before becoming chief in 2002.

One day in 2008, late City Manager Michael Hackett asked Mendosa to step in while he was on leave.

"I was filling in for him quite a while, while he was gone," Mendosa said. "I was gone quite a while from the police department, and they were doing so well without me that the council and I just agreed that I should stay.

"That wasn't my career goal, but I love the city of Arcata, and I love working here, and I know a lot about working here, so apparently it worked out," he added.

Other city employees and Arcata City Council members described Mendosa as a strong leader.

"Randy is the consummate professional, and one of the most dedicated public servants I've ever had the pleasure of working with," Mayor Mark Wheetley said. "He's devoted his life to improving the community for the people of Arcata."

Wheetley said hiring Mendosa as city manager was the best decision the council has made.

"It's a difficult job that requires a really special set of skills," he said. "We've just been so lucky to have Randy for so long."

As the city's leader, Mendosa had to address everything from the dissolution of the redevelopment agency and public safety to fiscal issues and upset community members, Wheetley added. With Mendosa's announcement, the council will evaluate its options and then choose how to go about the replacement process, he said.

Councilwoman Alex Stillman said Arcata has been fortunate to have Mendosa.

"I've been pleased to have him as our city manager, and thank him for his service to local government," Stillman said. "He was able to create a stable environment for us, he's always listened to us and been really helpful in anything we've tried to accomplish. He's been a real asset for us."

City employees said Mendosa has been a good boss who served Arcata well.

"He's been a fantastic mentor to me, and he's one of the most level-headed people I know," said Community Development Deputy Director David Loya. "He's got a very, very, very difficult job. I think that the way he handles himself in that position is something we should all aspire to."

Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman, who has worked with Mendosa for his entire career, said Mendosa is a great resource who will be hard to replace.

"He absolutely, 100 percent has been committed to the community, and to the job both as city manager and police chief," Chapman said. "He's going to take with him a lot of institutional knowledge, a lot of history of the city."

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.