RSM Approves Cervantez As City Manager

Jennifer Cervantez is approved by a 4-0 vote of the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council to be the next city manager.

The new head of Rancho Santa Margarita's day-to-day operations got the City Council’s seal of approval last night.

In a 4-0 vote, the council chose 39-year-old Jennifer Cervantez to take the reins that have been held by city manager Steve Hayman for the past six years.

Out of more than 100 applicants across the nation, Cervantez, the assistant city manager for the city La Habra, was the last woman standing.

Cervantez, who begins work July 9, will be the city’s third city manager and the first female city manager since the city’s founding in 2000.

The position has many duties, including overseeing the day-to-day operations of Rancho Santa Margarita as well as taking the lead during emergencies.

Prior to her work in La Habra, Cervantez worked for the city of Santa Ana and the League of California Cities.

Cervantez said it would be a “pleasure to serve the residents and businesses of Rancho Santa Margarita.”

“I really appreciate the confidence that you have in my abilities to be able to lead this community,” Cervantez told the Council.

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Is Cervantez nervous to about taking the job?

“A little, but I think that’s just natural,” she said after watching the meeting Wednesday from the front row of the council chambers at City Hall.

She added that she was “very happy” about getting the position, which will have a base salary of $187,000 annually.

After the meeting, Cervantez took photos with the council and outgoing city manager Steve Hayman, whose retirement was effective Dec. 30, 2011, but had served on an interim basis since.

Before voting, council members complimented Hayman on his work with the city.

Hayman, 59, made . His last day is June 28.

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Baric thanked Hayman for “not putting it on cruise control.”

“He never let this community down," Baric said, "even after he officially retired."

Hayman told Patch he’s looking forward to spending time with his wife and going golfing and fishing. He also says he hopes to take a trip to Europe with his wife.

Councilmembers also had kind words for the incoming city manager. Jerry Holloway said that Cervantez aced the interview process.

“The more she talked the better it got and that’s pretty rare,” Holloway said. “I’ve probably been involved in 300 or 400 job interviews, and I’ll say that Jennifer’s was the second best interview (ever).”

Holloway added that the best was Hayman.

Mayor Tony Beall said that, after hours of staff time and City Council effort, they had found the perfect candidate.

“This is the best person for this job anywhere in the United States in my opinion,” Beall said. “We put her through that kind of a process, and we got the best.

There was even a congratulatory message from the other side of the world: Councilmember Jesse Petrilla welcomed Cervantez to her new position in a statement read by Beall.

“I look forward to working with her when I return from Afghanistan,” said Petrilla who is serving with the Army National Guard. “(I) hope that she will continue to serve our community for many years to come.

To read the staff report on the item, click the attached PDF file.


  • The city honored students Jared Fernandez and Kristen Rosenberg as part of the Rancho Santa Margarita student recognition program.
  • Brad McGirr, planning commissioner, encouraged residents to volunteer for the upcoming Rancho Fest, which is Friday and Saturday. "You get in for free," McGirr said, indicating that an hour or two (although one could volunteer for a longer period) would be appreciated. To volunteer, contact Julie McGirr at avalondive@aol.com.
  • The city approved a new auditor for the city’s finances. With a 4-0 vote, the council selected the firm of White Nelson Diehl Evans to serve a 3-year term beginning May 23, 2012 for $66,782. Since 2001, the firm of Mayer Hoffman and McCann had been the city’s auditing firm. The firm served a number of cities, including the scandal-ridden city of Bell. Its contract with the city expires June 30.
  • The city adjourned in memory of Sgt. Wade D. Wilson, a member of the city’ adopted 2nd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment. Wilson was killed in action on Friday, May 11, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. He was 22 years old. The Helmand Province is the same area in which Rancho Santa Margarita resident was killed on March 4, 2011.
  • The next City Council meeting takes places 7 p.m. June 13 in Council Chambers at 22112 El Paseo. 
Lawrence (Larry) McCook May 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I think Jennifer Cervantez brings a wealth of great experience and should be a good fit for RSM.


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