Fairfield City Manager Sean Quinn announced his pending retirement this week, citing undisclosed health concerns.
The loss of Quinn as the city’s top administrator is one the city will surely feel.
Quinn guided Fairfield through the boom years of the mid- to late 2000s. More importantly, he shepherded the city through the housing bust and subsequent Great Recession, the effects of which the community feels to this day.
Programs and services were cut. City workers lost their jobs.
A unanimous City Council declared a state of fiscal emergency in April 2012 as it approved an additional round of spending cuts – totaling $5.5 million. Those cuts eliminated eight full-time and 25 part-time positions, leaving the city with a staff roughly equivalent to what it was in the early 1990s. That round of cuts essentially shuttered the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts until it was saved by a community nonprofit.
The declaration of fiscal emergency allowed the city to place Measure P on the local ballot, to boost the local sales tax by 1 percent for five years. That measure was approved in November 2012 and is expected to give the city some $12.75 million each year in added tax money to make financial ends meet. The first $8.5 million of Measure P money each year covered a deficit the City Council would have had to address if voters had rejected the tax hike.
All done under Quinn’s leadership.
When we say leadership, we mean it. His management style brings people together, even during difficult times. He understands the concept of shared sacrifice. The latest example of this was his contract extension in January 2013, when Quinn – at his request – gave up a cost of living adjustment and a raise, and removed a severance clause from his contract.
Quinn, 57, has been city manager since 2007. He was the city’s community development director from 1995 to 2007. He served as the city’s economic development director from 1985 to 1991.
He is, however, much more than a city employee with a quarter-century or so of service to the residents of Fairfield.
Quinn is active in the community. For one, he lives in Fairfield, and has lived here for years. This is his home. He cares about what happens here, and it shows. He’s so engaged in community affairs that the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce named him the distinguished citizen of the year in June 2011.
Now Quinn will retire this spring, leaving some big administrative shoes to fill. The City Council, during its annual retreat in Fairfield later this month, will discuss plans to find a new city manager.
That’s a tall order.