Hired in early March as interim city manager for the city of Dunsmuir, Randy Johnsen has been hearing requests from both city council members and the public that he stay and drop the interim designation.
When a resident asked Johnsen if he would stay during the last city council meeting, he replied, “I’m retired and looking forward to spending time with my wife, which I don’t do here.”
City councilors point to Johnsen’s wealth of experience, facilitation skills, the professionalism he brings to the table and, as Bruce Deutsch said, “the remarkable spirit behind the professional.”
He’s helped the city in its attempts to reawaken Mott Airport, manage the city budget, and include Dunsmuir in the Integrated Regional Water Management group.
“Overall, Randy is someone we’ve been able to trust and that’s what this town has needed,” said councilor Bryce Craig. “He saved our city literally tens of thousands of dollars just by showing great professionalism and courtesy when dealing with state agencies. Randy found the city a great financial director and, working with her, created a budget that achieves many of the council’s goals and sets us up for future success.”
Mayor Dave Keisler called Johnsen’s staff recommendations “spot on. He gets done what needs to get done, and isn’t intimidated by the conflicts of Dunsmuir’s past. He’s seen it all before.”
Johnsen was hired to serve as interim city manager to fill the void left while city manager Brenda Bains was out on medical leave for several months.
He had been enjoying retirement with his wife in Lakeport, spending time with his grandchildren, and singing in his bluegrass band, Polecat Rodeo.
Johnsen retired in 2007 after working as a city manager for several cities in California. He has taken on other interim work since then.
Craig noted the effort Johnsen put in to get the city “caught up after being without a city manager for many months. Since he’s been here he’s always said, ‘We can’t change history, but we can get things back on track and move forward.’ I think that attitude is exactly what we’ve needed.”
Councilor Bruce Deutsch said, “When this council was voted in in November, there was a real sense that it was time to put an end to decades of turmoil and toxic politics. I’ve heard from many people that there’s a real sense that the council has turned a corner and is operating with a new energy and spirit. In my mind, the decision to hire Randy Johnsen will be looked at as a turning point for the city and our future.”
Deutsch pointed to a couple of new initiatives on which he’s been working closely with Johnsen: bringing the airport back to life and installing fiber optics in Dunsmuir.
“Watching him embrace these initiatives gave me the opportunity to see how learning something new and taking on management challenges is a joyful experience for him,” said Deutsch. “You get the sense that he has enormous respect for the relationship between the city council and the city manager. He’s not furthering his personal agenda. He’s working to execute the council’s agenda.”
Keisler said Johnsen “finds what’s wrong and fixes it.”
Councilor Nick Syrrist said, “We’re very luck to have found Randy. We’ve benefitted greatly from his knowledge and expertise. I’ve learned so much from him.”
“It’s easy to look at Randy’s extensive resume and assume, rightly so, that he has a wealth of experience,” said Deutsch. “What the resume doesn’t reveal is the remarkable spirit behind the professional. You can’t spend much time around him without noticing his sense of humor. It’s there beneath the surface even at the most trying moments. Whether in conversations in his office, or sitting at the dais during council meetings, he deftly uses his humor to put things in perspective and lighten the moment.”