Former Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra Wallar — whose tenure ended in October after her one-term contract with the county wasn’t renewed — is one of six candidates in the running for the position of Dallas city manager, according to a story first reported by the Dallas Morning News and confirmed by the city’s mayor’s office. An outside consultant for the city sought résumés up until November 15, and a cover letter from Wallar addressed to that consultant — and obtained by The Santa Barbara Independent — was dated November 14.
“As a Chief Executive Officer with extensive public service experience, I seek the opportunity to significantly contribute to the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the City of Dallas as their new City Manager,” Wallar wrote in the letter. “The City of Dallas’s mission to ‘enhance the vitality and quality of life for all in the Dallas community’ is closely aligned with my personal and professional goals.”
Wallar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to Sam Merten, the city’s public affairs and communications manager, Wallar joins five other final candidates. The job’s start date isn’t definite, Merten said — the previous city manager stepped down in July, and an interim city manager, who is also in the running for the permanent position, has been serving since then — and the salary is negotiable. The previous manager brought in $305,000 a year after holding the position for eight years, as was reported by the Dallas Morning News. Merten said that interviews with the six candidates are scheduled for next week.
Wallar isn’t the only out-of-towner in the candidate pool. Other applicants include former city managers from Raleigh, North Carolina, and Cincinnati, Ohio, and the current city administrator of Oakland. Dallas city is about one-tenth the size of Santa Barbara County (385 square miles versus 3,789 square miles), but boasts a population that is more than twice as large (1.2 million versus approximately 420,000).
The city, according to a brochure dispersed by the hiring consultant, is the third largest in Texas and the ninth largest nationwide. Its economy is focused on, among other things, banking, medical research, and energy. The city manager is aided by six assistant managers and oversees most of the city’s departments and more than 12,000 full-time employees. For the 2013-14 fiscal year, the city’s budget was a hefty $2.16 billion, plus a $654 million capital budget. In Wallar’s last year at the helm of Santa Barbara County, the supervisors approved a $844.5 million budget.
“As evidenced in the attached résumé my experience and knowledge encompasses many of the key challenges and opportunities facing the City of Dallas as noted in your recruitment brochure,” Wallar wrote in her letter, going on to cite her efforts to balance the budget and prioritize public safety during her term as Santa Barbara’s CEO. “Proven leadership skills, strong commitment to high professional and ethical standards, and the ability to create an effective performance-based culture will enable me to make a significant contrition as part of the City of Dallas team,” she continued.
Wallar was hired as CEO in 2010 at a $232,000 annual salary, but her contract wasn’t renewed by the supervisors earlier this year after the board discovered that she had been seeking the same job in Orange County; she ended up declining that position after it didn’t meet her salary requirements. At one of her last meetings in October, Wallar was recognized by the supervisors for her help in guiding the county through a tough financial landscape.
Before accepting the Santa Barbara job in 2010, Wallar worked for San Diego County for 11 years, first as the assistant Public Works director, then as deputy chief administrative officer. She also served as the Public Works director for Little Rock, Arkansas, from 1993 to 1999, and before that held the same position for Jefferson City, Missouri. She began her career working for the City of Decatur, Illinois.
Wallar was succeeded as Santa Barbara County CEO by Mona Miyasato (assistant CEO Terri Nisich served as interim CEO between terms), who started on December 9. Miyasato, who came to Santa Barbara County from Marin County, was given a $230,000 salary and contract through December 2017.