Seminars to Address City Management Challenges, Need for Regional Collaboration

School of Public Policy series features city manager panel Dec. 4, regional charter council advocate Dec. 10

Gaebler, Harding, Bates

Former city managers Ted Gaebler, Stephen Harding and Ronald Bates will discuss challenges facing city managers on Dec. 4.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Two seminars presented in early December by the UC Riverside School of Public Policy will address challenges facing city managers and the need for regional collaboration to achieve common goals. Both are part of the Randall Lewis Seminar Series organized by the School of Public Policy’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development.

The first seminar, “Challenges of City Managers: Past, Present and Future,” will be held on Thursday, Dec. 4, at 5:30 p.m. at CE-CERT (College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology), 1084 Columbia Ave. Seating is limited. RSVP online.

A panel of three former city managers will discuss how the position of city manager has changed over the years, challenges such as shared governance, the cost of city government and regional cooperation, and what it takes to make a city an attractive place to live, work, play and do business. Panelists are:

  • Ted Gaebler, co-author of “Reinventing Government” and an internationally recognized authority on new approaches to government issues. He served as city manager of Rancho Cordova, Visalia, San Rafael and East Palo Alto, and as CEO of Nevada County, California. He holds a B.A. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and an M.A. in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Graduate School. He is an elected Fellow of the prestigious National Academy of Public Administration.
  • Stephen Harding, adjunct professor of public policy at several universities who most recently served as interim city manager of Jurupa Valley and before that was city manager of Murrieta. He also was president of San Diego’s Southeast Economic Development Corp. (SEDC) and served as executive director of the Santa Ana Redevelopment Agency and Housing Authority. He holds a B.A. and an M.P.A. from California State University, Long Beach.
  • Ronald Bates, a financial and transportation consultant to local governments and longtime city manager. His last full-time position was as city manager in Pico Rivera. He previously served as city manager in South Gate, Buena Park and La Habra Heights. He also served as mayor and city council member in Los Alamitos. In 2014 was awarded the National Public Service Award by the American Society for Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration. He earned his B.A. from California State University, Los Angeles, and his M.P.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

The Dec. 10 seminar, “Regional Grand Bargain,” will feature William Dodge, a consultant and former executive director of the National Association of Regional Councils. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at CE-CERT. RSVP online.

William Dodge

William Dodge

Dodge will discuss the value of creating regional compacts as a means and structure for collaborating across local jurisdictions to accomplish common goals. In a 2010 paper published in Public Administration Review, “Practitioner’s Perspective – Regional Charters: The Future of Local Government,” Dodge advocated the creation of regional charter councils to address current and unforeseen challenges.

“Regional charters, developed by local governments and regional citizens, can guide building the capacity to address crosscutting challenges and instill the confidence to negotiation sustainable, affordable, regional growth compacts,” he wrote. “Local governments have strengthened their capacities multifold in the past century, and earned our respect, and accompanying tax dollars, to provide state-of-the-art roads and sewers, public safety and recreation programs, and even bus service and affordable housing. With regional charters, they can build the capacity to address the toughest challenges and earn the respect or our grandchildren.”

Dodge writes a column, “Regional Excellence,” which is shared in various publications and on national websites. He recently served as the interim town administrator for Silverton, Colorado, and has been a visiting professor in graduate schools of public affairs and administration. He co-authored “Shaping a Region’s Future: A Guide to Strategic Decision Making for Regions” and wrote “Regional Excellence: Governing Together to Compete Globally and Flourish Locally.”

Dodge holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Cornell University, a master’s degree in foreign affairs and economics from the University of Virginia, and a certificate in urban and regional planning from Harvard University/Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and the recipient of the Don Stone Intergovernmental Cooperation Award of the American Society of Public Administration.


Established in 2003, the UCR Center for Sustainable Suburban Development (CSSD) explores the social, economic, political and environmental impacts that population growth and movement has on cities and local communities. The center facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations in the community through its staff and affiliated faculty via research, joint conferences, workshops and public forums held at UCR and in the community.

The Randall Lewis Seminar Series is an ongoing program of CSSD generously funded by Randall Lewis, executive vice president of Upland-based Lewis Operating Cos. The seminars focus on a wide range of regional sustainability topics such as air and water resources, infrastructure and transportation planning, affordable housing and the fiscal health of cities.

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