January 11, 2020
After looking nationwide for a chief administrator, Los Angeles County supervisors turned to their neighbor to the south, hiring Orange County executive Tom Mauk on Monday to the $270,000-a-year job. The 63-year-old Whittier resident had not originally applied for the L.A. County post. But he expressed interest after learning that another candidate had declined the county’s job offer. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said Mauk is considered a “straight shooter” and one of California’s top public administrators, with 35 years’ experience in government and public policy. “He has tackled complex challenges and managed significant crises,” Yaroslavsky said. “He’s unflappable. He has a demeanor about him the board was very impressed with. His credentials are unassailable. He shares our vision of fiscal prudence and responsibility. He’s the right man to take us into the next decade. “And I think our taxpayers and citizens are going to find a very open and transparent chief administrative officer.” The current CAO, David Janssen, will continue working until March 12, when Mauk is expected to start. Janssen had retired Jan. 16 from his $242,000-a-year job and then was rehired under contract for $20,176 a month while a successor was sought. “I think Tom is perfect for the job,” Janssen said. “He’s got the right temperament, excellent experience, is very professional and will add a lot to the county.” Earlier this month, Sandra L. Vargas, the administrator for Hennepin County, Minn., turned down the supervisors’ offer and instead accepted a job heading a charitable foundation in Minneapolis. Los Angeles County is the nation’s largest, with 10 million people. County government has nearly 100,000 employees and an annual budget of $21 billion. And while Los Angeles County government is significantly larger than the organization Mauk has headed for nearly three years, he has already grappled successfully with many of the same issues he’ll face here, officials said. He oversaw refinancing more than $1 billion of debt, and he negotiated an agreement with labor unions to address the growing liability of retiree health benefits. James Keene, executive director of the California State Association of Counties, said Mauk is a strong and effective manager who is very respectful of elected officials’ roles and responsibilities. “In my view, he has the experience and diplomatic skills to be very successful as the Los Angeles County chief administrative officer,” Keene said. “I’ve known Tom for more than a decade and he has been outstanding in city management and in his CEO role in Orange County.” Mauk is also credited with encouraging an atmosphere of openness and transparency among Orange County’s 21 departments and more than 15,000 employees, Yaroslavsky said. Supervisor Gloria Molina said L.A. County government is fortunate to get Mauk. “Tom believes that county government should be an open, transparent and responsive institution. All of our residents will benefit from this approach,” she said. Before taking the position in Orange County, Mauk served as assistant city manager and city manager in various Southern California cities, including Montclair, La Habra and Norco. He also worked in the private sector on municipal finance issues. He was city manager of Whittier in 1980-99, a period that included the 1987 Whittier Narrows Earthquake that severely damaged that community’s downtown area. From 1967 to 1970, he worked for the city of Los Angeles ` and was responsible for departmental budget review and recommendations. Mauk got a bachelor’s degree from California State Polytechnic College, Pomona, in 1966. He received his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California in 1972. Mauk, a widower, has four adult children, is active at the gym and enjoys sports and golf. [email protected] (213) 974-8985 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!