After several months of looking, interviewing and weeding, the City Council of Rancho Santa Margarita has finally found its man.
And the best man for the job, it discovered, is a woman.
The next city manager—the most important position in the city—will be Jennifer Malkowski Cervantez.
Although it's contingent upon a vote at the city council meeting on Wednesday, there doesn't appear to be any obstacles to getting the necessary three votes among Mayor Tony Beall, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Baric, or councilmembers Jerry Holloway and Carol Gamble.
"It's a wonderful community, a newer city, I like the family feel atmosphere," said Cervantez, an assistant city manager for La Habra. "Becoming a city manager was something I wanted to do, and this seemed like a really great situation. The council gets along terrific, and they’ve been very supportive throughout this process.
"In speaking with them, they are actively interested in building the local economy. I do have some experience in economic development. I have a strong background in community engagement, getting people involved in the civic process."
Cervantez, 39, will begin work on July 9. She has performed in the role of assistant city manager officially for the last four years, unofficially since late 2002; she was originally hired under a different title, assistant to the city manager.
"I think we're lucky to have her, I think she's a rising star," said Tony Beall, mayor of Rancho Santa Margarita. "She will instill confidence in those around her."
The city manager is an at-will position that serves the city council, though the position is essentially that of a chief executive officer. Though Hayman takes orders from the city council, he was the one who clearly oversaw the day-to-day function of the city.
Hayman last year effective Dec. 30, but he has remained in the position on an interim basis. He has had a number of health-related issues, including a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Hayman, 59, was hired in August of 2005 after being the assistant city manager in Costa Mesa.
Cervantez and her husband Javier have two daughters, ages 5 and 8, and live in Santa Ana. She will be paid a base salary of $187,000 with a monthly benefit allowance of $1,321 to purchase medical, dental and vision benefits. The position will be enrolled in the new second tier pension formula of 2 percent at age 60.
She was a policy analyst for League of California Cities, and was a management assistant for the city of Santa Ana prior to joining La Habra in December, 2002.
A 1991 graduate of Santa Ana High, Cervantez attended Long Beach State where she received a bachelor's degree in Political Science and graduated there in 1996; in 1998 she received a master’s degree in Public Policy from Claremont University.