SANTA FE — Mayor Alan Webber said Tuesday that he is nominating his current chief of staff, Jarel LaPan Hill, to serve as interim city manager.
The appointment is subject to the consent of the City Council, which will hold a special meeting on Monday for that purpose.
The mayor said that LaPan Hill will serve in the position until someone else is hired to replace current city manager Erik Litzenberg, who is stepping down on Friday to become Santa Fe County fire chief.
“I have a lot of confidence in Jarel, having her as my chief of staff for the last 18 months,” Webber said in a phone interview. “She combines a sense of local pride and commitment and has the skills and capacity to serve at the highest level of city government.”
Since Webber took office in March 2018, city government has operated for the first time under a so-called “strong mayor” form of government, which gives the mayor administrative authority, much like a CEO. Many other cities work within the framework of a council-manager form of government.
Webber said LaPan Hill is a natural choice to serve as city manager on an interim basis in that she’s familiar with city government and the issues facing the city.
“She’s uniquely qualified,” he said. “She was the glue between me and Erik and knows all the issues that we’ve been working on.”
A 1999 graduate of Capital High School in Santa Fe, LaPan Hill went on to graduate from George Washington University. She spent eight years as chief of staff to the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during President Barack Obama’s administration.
LaPan Hill’s salary will nearly double during the time she’s in the position. Currently earning about $88,442 per year, during the time she serves as interim city manager she will be paid at the same rate as Litzenberg, who makes $169,998 per year.
Webber said the city has already begun the search for a new city manager.
“A number of people have submitted résumés; some are from here and some are from out of state. We’ve also launched a search with a search firm and are doing informal networking,” he said. “We’re going to look at both local candidates who are not necessarily professional city managers but are talented managers that understand the city of Santa Fe, as well as people who have been professional city managers.
Webber said LaPan Hill, who is married with two children, is not interested in serving as city manager on a permanent basis, and he doesn’t want her in that role either.
“I certainly want her back as my chief of staff,” he said.