Feb 3, 2018
by Carol Russell
As you may have heard, Cloverdale City Manager Paul Cayler is retiring March 31st. Unlike some long-time CMs, Paul is not simply an official up on the podium at city council meetings and regularly quoted in the media. He’s also one of the community-minded volunteers helping clean up the Plaza after a Friday Night Live concert. He’s the customer-focused professional stopping by your business to find out what the City can do better. He’s the active member of, and participant in, a range of community service organizations. He’s the Emergency Operations Center leader who stayed up all night during the fires. In short, he is whoever is needed, doing whatever is needed, to get the job done.
We recently chatted with Paul about his retirement plans as well as his 30-year public service career, the first 25 years of which were in Redding, the County of Mendocino, and then Willits. Not surprisingly, being Paul, he focused far more on others than on himself—especially on Cloverdale’s employees, residents, and businesses.
Describing himself as a “regular guy” whose leadership style is based on participation, involvement, and communication and whose motto is: “Hard on the problem, not on the people.” Paul is an effective and reliably available liaison between city departments, city council members, and the public, the person who consistently keeps the city council fully informed as soon as possible so they can answer the community’s questions accurately, whether involving complex facts, emergencies, or the occasional rumor.
During his very first week here, Paul asked a group of leading business owners what city hall could do to better meet their needs. As its “cheerleader”, that conversation has blossomed over the years into an increasingly successful collaboration between local business and city hall.
When Paul arrived on the scene, we were feeling the full impact of the Great Recession and the withdrawal of redevelopment funds. Like many cities, Cloverdale’s general fund (essential for public safety!) was in a downward spiral. Paul worked with the city council and our whole community to get the utility user tax (Measure O) reinstated in 2014 as a “shot in the arm both fiscally and emotionally” with the result that staff at the Police Department was replenished, other key positions were filled, including Finance Manager, and the general fund was restored to good health.
“Awesome!” is how Paul sums up the way Cloverdale came together to actively address the drought. So it was! Embracing community-wide co-operation, the city instituted a timely Stage One Water Conservation program and Cloverdalians promptly pulled out lawns, stopped washing beloved cars, and changed other personal water usage with the result that we achieved the county’s highest percentage of water conservation. While largely ignored by the press, Cloverdale understood and is proud of what we accomplished together.
With the hiring of a full-time city engineer, Paul’s team also developed a water plan, established new water sources, and made other improvements so we can reliably meet our water demands. (Of course, we Cloverdalians know we need to recognize the lack of rain this past year and remain water wise!)
And what is Paul going to do in the first six months of retirement? He and Eleanor, his marvelous wife, major supporter and encourager, having adult children and realizing, especially after the fires, that “stuff is just stuff”, are downsizing. Moving to Chico they‘ll be closer to family where Paul is going to work on family relationships, regain his life/work balance, and continue his health wellness plan that includes exercise* and eating right. Finally, he’s going to find a mission-driven purpose and continue to give to his community.
Thank you, Paul. Enjoy your retirement! Your legacy of innovation, overcoming challenges, and team-based achievement has strengthened us in so many ways. We wish you the very best.
*It comes as no surprise to those who have seen him accomplish so much these past 5 years that Paul has already reached one of his retirement goals: On 2/17 he broke the 10 minute/mile average over 3.3 miles!
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