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Bell hires 'one of the most respected city managers in California'

Bell mayor

The Bell City Council has appointed Arne Croce, the former city manager of San Mateo, as the city’s interim chief administrative officer.

Croce, who served as San Mateo’s top administrator for 18 years, will start work Aug. 22.

“Bell needs somebody to move the city forward,” Mayor Ali Saleh said. “He seems to be a great fit.”

Croce, 60, will be paid $3,230 a week and receive no benefits. He replaces Ken Hampian, former city manager of San Luis Obispo, who was appointed acting city administrator July 27 as a bridge until someone could fill the position for a longer period.

Saleh said the city hopes to hire a permanent chief administrative officer in six to nine months.

The last person to hold the job permanently was Robert Rizzo, who along with seven other former Bell officials is facing corruption charges.

Hampian said Croce was “one of the most respected city managers in California.” Before working in San Mateo, Croce was city manager in Los Altos for six years. He left San Mateo in 2008 and spent 10 ½ months traveling abroad with his wife. Since then, he has been a consultant on local government, which included stints in Iraq and Kosovo.

Croce will have his work cut out for him in Bell, which is struggling to remain solvent and faces a major rebuilding effort from the Rizzo era.

He said he wasn’t looking for an interim position but said several colleagues suggested he apply for the Bell job. “Yes, it is a tough place and there are a lot of issues and lot of scrutiny, but residents want to do the right thing and the council wants do the right thing, and I think our profession wants to do the right thing,” he said.

Croce said he won’t be a candidate for the permanent position but will coordinate the effort to find candidates.

Though Bell originally had problems finding applicants for its interim city manager position, Saleh said that more than 60 people eventually applied.

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-- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Mayor Ali Saleh. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

 
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