Al Zelinka relishes new town manager part in Huntington Beach front

Al Zelinka claimed he never ever aspired to be a metropolis supervisor. Instead, a vocation of service led him to be requested to step into the role in Riverside in 2018. Four decades later, Zelinka arrived to Huntington Beach front.

He was accredited by the Town Council on Might 3, and commenced as Surf City’s city manager on June 27.

Zelinka took the seat once held by Oliver Chi, who resigned last November, with Sean Joyce serving as interim town supervisor for various months.

Zelinka, 54, earned a bachelor’s diploma in community organizing from Northern Arizona College and a master’s in regional arranging from Cornell University. He lives with his wife Anna and 16-12 months-outdated son John, an incoming junior at Servite Significant, in the city of Orange.

Zelinka lately sat down with the Everyday Pilot to remedy some questions about his career.

Responses are edited for size and clarity.

Query: What led to you becoming metropolis manager? Was it a thing you believed you may want to do for a profession?

Respond to: My profession history is in city organizing, and about 50 percent of my occupation has been working in the private sector for consultants. Even though I worked mostly in California, I have labored in a wide variety of capacities in about 28 states and about 100-in addition cities about the place. Metropolis arranging was a conduit for me to make a variance. Which is all I needed to do in my job, make a distinction in the communities I served.

When my son was about 2½ or so, he begun to say, ‘Daddy household, daddy airplane?’ I was traveling so substantially for my position. One particular of my consumers was the city of Fullerton, and at that time they had a city scheduling manager placement open. I believed, position No. 1 is being a father, so I will depart private consulting and be a part of the city of Fullerton. That was my to start with key foray into public company, in 2008.

Q: Then you at some point grew to become assistant city supervisor in Riverside. What was that step like?

A: I actually liked it. I like connecting dots … There’s so a lot of possibilities for synergy concerning departments that can generate public advantage. It was fantastic to notice that by viewing a even larger image, I can help the departments perform alongside one another for much better results. I did that for about 4 a long time.

In 2018, the Town Council requested me to be their metropolis manager. I experienced a ton of trepidation about that … [but] that four-yr journey in Riverside was great. Eventually, I felt like I could make a variance as town manager, for the reason that that encounter I had as assistant town manager was now magnified. I could connect the dots not only in between departments, but at a higher amount, the demands of the local community, the demands of the group, the passions and aspirations of the elected leaders. It was a serious wonderful prospect to deliver all of individuals with each other for great outcomes.

Al Zelinka was formerly the town supervisor of Riverside for four decades.

(James Carbone)

Q: What are you most very pleased of in the course of your tenure as metropolis manager of Riverside?

A: In spite of COVID … we went from possessing a structural deficit to possessing a surplus in our spending plan. We built the needed conclusions and changes to provide money overall health to the metropolis, and noticeably so. I’m very pleased of standing on the shoulders of prior administrations and currently being capable to open up up a new environment-class key library downtown. I’m happy that we were being equipped to open up the Cheech Marin Centre for Chicano Artwork & Lifestyle in our previous, mid-century present day library.

I’m very pleased that we have been equipped to open up the Southern California headquarters of missions exploration and screening for the California Air Resources Board. Earlier in my profession in Riverside, we had been portion of a much larger neighborhood team that competed in opposition to L.A. County for consolidating all of CARB’s study and testing services, and it resulted in a $450-million point out-of-the-art emissions testing and analysis facility in Riverside.

I’m proud of operating with the council to build a neighborhood engagement plan, that is in draft form … to offer the group with a minimal stage of expectation for any and all department attempts, so that men and women can rely on some degree of local community. We also set up a biannual excellent of daily life study throughout the metropolis, for comprehension the community’s pulse on a entire assortment of high-quality of everyday living subject areas.

I’m very pleased of a whole lot of growth that we facilitated in downtown and other spots of the local community. We recognized a food items devices system … so that in excess of time Riverside will be much less reliant on imported foodstuff and can acquire and expand its very own food locally.

Q: What prompted the go to Huntington Beach?

A: The city’s recruiter attained out to me and released me to the possibility. Through our family’s lifetime of becoming in Orange County, we have friends in Huntington Beach, and we have had frequent events to arrive to Huntington Beach. We appreciated Huntington Beach a large amount, so when the option was brought to my notice I was intrigued by it.

I was properly pleased in Riverside, but I was intrigued because the recruiter conveyed to me that the metropolis of Huntington Seashore could benefit from some of the way of thinking that I have. The extra I analyzed Huntington Seashore and talked to individuals, I understood it would be sort of enjoyable to return to Orange County and operate with a huge coastal town. It is a city that has aspirations for many items, and also wishes to observe the fundamentals truly properly far too.

At the stop of the day, all I want to do is make a distinction in the communities I serve. That’s usually been my career purpose.

Q: You have been listed here for a couple weeks now, how has the transition been?

A: The metropolis team has prepped me nicely. Working day range a person or two, they had amazing, very very well-structured binders … the changeover has been really fantastic. There’s a large amount to study. I like to joke about with all my colleagues, but I suggest it. I’m the minimum-educated individual about Huntington Beach there is proper now, but I’m a university student. I’m just finding out [all] I quite possibly can, mainly because the much more I know, the superior I can serve.

Huntington Beach's new city manager, Al Zelinka, started on the job in late June.

Huntington Beach’s new metropolis manager, Al Zelinka, started off on the work in late June.

(James Carbone)

Q: Do you have any passion spots that are vital to you, in conditions of what you imagine the city governing administration need to be focusing on?

A: Element of the final decision to sign up for the metropolis is tied to ‘What am I passionate about and does it join with what the group needs and requires?’ I have a really extensive qualifications in downtown revitalization and enhancement. I’m a licensed primary road supervisor … and the council conveyed to me the desire to make downtown the very best it can be.

The council also communicated a motivation it has manufactured for better group engagement, and neighborhood engagement is very crucial to me. We’re serving the community.

There is loads of passions that I have that connect what I’ll be doing over the future many years. The variety of Huntington Beach front resonates with me. I’m glad about that, and I want to actually implement that and embrace that.

Q: What are some factors of the city supervisor job that you consider citizens might not be knowledgeable of?

A: In the big photograph, the citizens of Huntington Seashore need to respect that the charter they have voted on is definitely my instruction guide. I require to be politically informed, but not be political. My career is to provide the general public desire, which in component is described by the constitution … to aid have the most good results for the most persons of the neighborhood.

What would be fantastic for associates of the local community to know is that what’s genuinely crucial is the expression “source of authority.” The decisions I make, are they rooted in a source of authority? Are they rooted in Town Council-adopted coverage, the constitution of the city of Huntington Seashore, the govt code of the point out of California? It goes back to serving the general public fascination and building confident I really don’t do some thing knowingly that violates general public have confidence in in government.

The other factor the public ought to know is that this is a actually, truly worthwhile job. What I do issues to general public interest, community have faith in, community fantastic. If I do my work nicely and I regard all people equally and equitably, then I’m executing my position in a way which is pretty fulfilling to me and the crew that serves the city.

Q: What are some of your 1st impressions of Huntington Beach front as a town?

A: One particular detail is the remarkable relationship that so several individuals in the town have with the water and the beach front, the total maritime local weather and surroundings. It’s obvious, but as a new city manager listed here, that magnetic attraction and symbiosis among the seashore ecosystem and the group is seriously interesting.

The other factor is that a whole lot of persons experience so happy to be a Huntington Seaside resident or business enterprise-operator. Nonetheless, in that context, there is a rugged individualism of Huntington Beach people, just about like an entrepreneurial spirit.

Q: What do you like to do when not working?

A: My son is very involved in soccer and audio, so we’re incredibly occupied with his college and club soccer timetable. We invest a great deal of time with that, and I expend a large amount of time getting treatment of my before long-to-be 87-calendar year-outdated mom, who life four blocks down our avenue.

As a loved ones, we like riding our bikes a whole lot, heading on hikes and walks. We do a good deal of traveling. We go up to Yosemite, Mount Hood. We do a ton of gardening and enjoy Farmer’s Marketplaces as very well. It’s usually occupied.

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