Santa Monica was taken by surprise by City Manager Lamont’s Ewell’s announcement on August 12 that he has decided to retire at the end of this calendar year.
He told the Mirror that after 34 years of public service he “felt very fortunate to be ending his career with one of the greatest cities in the nation.” He is proudest of the fact that he helped “reconnect City Hall with the residents” by building strong working relationships with the community. He also built strong working relationships with the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica College.
Ewell mentioned that he also assisted Santa Monica in “internally restructuring City services to effectively deliver services to the public.” He credits this new standard in City customer service to the hard work of City staff that worked in small teams to help set new standards and evaluate them.
When asked if there were any goals that he hasn’t met as City Manager, Ewell stated, “There are always issues that have to be addressed but I learned in my long career not to be disappointed if I didn’t succeed on every issue.” He will not be involved in choosing his successor but will aide the City Council in choosing an Executive Search Firm to find suitable candidates.
City Council member Richard Bloom called Ewell “hands down one of the finest human beings I have ever known, not to mention an incredibly effective, compassionate and intelligent leader of our community.”
City Council member Gleam Davis stated, “Lamont has been an outstanding City Manager. He genuinely cares about Santa Monica and everyone who lives, visits, and does business here. In my brief time on the Council, I have seen first hand his commitment of seemingly limitless time and energy to our community. He is a consummate professional who leaves a wonderful legacy here. I will greatly miss his leadership as well as his sense of humor, warm smile, and infectious laugh.”
“The moment I met Lamont Ewell and sensed his gracious integrity, I knew he was the man I wanted to lead our city,” noted Council member Kevin Mckeown. “It is with the utmost regret we acknowledge and accede to his wish to retire, too soon for many of us. Lamont is an inspiring manager, skilled administrator, potent negotiator, and, always, a consummate gentleman. He will be impossible to replace.”
Also praising Ewell was the Superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Tim Cuneo who stated, “”I have enjoyed working with Lamont Ewell and have appreciated his counsel during my first year as superintendent. His collaborative leadership has helped strengthen the relationship between the School District and the City. I will miss working with him.”
The Superintendent/President of Santa Monica College, Chui Tsang, told the Mirror “Ewell was a man of great integrity who was always open to looking into problems.” He helped the College resolve neighbors’ complaints about students parking in the community and assisted the College in developing its any line any time program with Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus.
Laurel Rosen, the President of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce noted that Ewell, “has had a great influence on the City. He has been responsible for creating a close relationship between the Chamber and the City. He is the kind of man that can really bring solutions to the table” because of great patience and understanding.
The City press release announcing Ewell’s retirement stated he “was appointed Santa Monica City Manger in January 2006. He previously served as the City Manager for the City of San Diego. Ewell has experience not only in city management, but in the fire service, having begun his career as a firefighter in Compton and promoting through the ranks there and in Prince George’s County, Maryland, to become Fire Chief of Oakland, California, in 1991—just 13 days before the devastating Oakland Hills fire. He distinguished himself in managing that fire disaster and rebuilding the area and was later named Assistant City Manager of Oakland. In 1997, Ewell was named City Manager of the City of Durham, North Carolina, where he restructured government for improved service delivery to the public and helped jumpstart the Downtown renaissance currently underway. Recruited to San Diego in 2001, he was named Assistant City Manager. In 2004, he was appointed City Manager of San Diego.
In leaving, he will have more time to focus attention on his family–wife Mary, daughter Jamila, and son Justin and 3 young grandchildren with one more on the way. His “next adventure” will include working through a long list of travels that he and Mary have set their sights on over their 32 year marriage.”