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Todd Gloria picks Houstonian for Ash Street reset

New COO "unburdened by the way we've always done things in the past," says mayor

Gloria, Dargan
Gloria, Dargan

Three days after a dispatch here Monday about the long-delayed naming of a permanent Chief Operating Officer by Mayor Todd Gloria, the San Diego Democrat has finally revealed his pick to run the city.

The choice also comes close on the heels of Tuesday's 6-3 city council vote in Gloria's favor to sign the controversial Ash Street high-rise settlement loudly backed by interim COO Jay Goldstone, who held the city's permanent COO spot during the reign of Republican Jerry Sanders, Gloria's longtime mentor. Goldstone went 19 months under Gloria.

"In this instance, I'm excited to welcome someone who will come to the city unburdened by the way we've always done things in the past and instead bring a fresh perspective to the way that we operate."

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The successful candidate, Eric K. Dargan, who comes from Houston, Texas, where he is Chief Operating Officer of Public Works, said in a news release issued by the mayor's office, " I have a genuine passion for tackling significant challenges and making municipal operations as effective as possible for the people they serve," offering no specifics.

A city video of the mayor's announcement event was posted to its YouTube page.

"I pledge to be transparent,” says Dargan in the video. "I pledge to be innovative; I pledge to enable staff to do what they do on a daily basis, and to really run their organizations. I'm here to serve them. I'm here to assist them, hopefully to remove any obstacles that stand in their way."

"Retirement is just a name for a new chapter in life," he said, referring to his departure from Houston after two decades. "I'm looking forward to this new chapter."

Current acting Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone is also a public agency retiree, pulling two public pensions, one due to his service as COO for city of San Diego - $55,829 in 2021 according to the Transparent California website - and the other from the city of Pasadena, where he was finance director - amounting to $111,059 last year - which along with his 2021 acting COO salary of $272,642 totaled $439,530.

When the city advertised for a new COOin February, the salary spread for the permanent position was given as between $300,000 and $400,000. According to GovSalaries.com, which lists his title as Chief Operating Officer, Dargan’s 2019 City of Houston compensation was $220,626. "This salary is 269 percent higher than average and 273 percent higher than median salary in City of Houston,” per the site.

Neither Gloria nor Dargan spoke regarding the amount of his compensation during the video. A mayoral news release was also silent on the matter.

During the video, Gloria said a city council confirmation hearing is set for September 12. Until then, Goldstone will continue his acting tenure. Dargan is scheduled to take over on November 1, according to the mayor.

Regarding the mayor's sputtering efforts to deal with the city's burgeoning homeless crisis, Dargan said, "If I had an answer to the homeless situation, I'd probably be a millionaire by now."

"I don't have an answer for you today, but that will be on of the top items on the list that we will be evaluating...Stay tuned."

"An Arkansas native, Dargan attended college in Texas, earning his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Prairie View A&M University," according to the news release.

"He went on to earn his masters of science in electrical engineering at Michigan State University in 1991. While working at the City of Houston, Dargan received a Certified Public Manager accreditation through Sam Houston State University in 2007."

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Gloria, Dargan
Gloria, Dargan

Three days after a dispatch here Monday about the long-delayed naming of a permanent Chief Operating Officer by Mayor Todd Gloria, the San Diego Democrat has finally revealed his pick to run the city.

The choice also comes close on the heels of Tuesday's 6-3 city council vote in Gloria's favor to sign the controversial Ash Street high-rise settlement loudly backed by interim COO Jay Goldstone, who held the city's permanent COO spot during the reign of Republican Jerry Sanders, Gloria's longtime mentor. Goldstone went 19 months under Gloria.

"In this instance, I'm excited to welcome someone who will come to the city unburdened by the way we've always done things in the past and instead bring a fresh perspective to the way that we operate."

Sponsored
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The successful candidate, Eric K. Dargan, who comes from Houston, Texas, where he is Chief Operating Officer of Public Works, said in a news release issued by the mayor's office, " I have a genuine passion for tackling significant challenges and making municipal operations as effective as possible for the people they serve," offering no specifics.

A city video of the mayor's announcement event was posted to its YouTube page.

"I pledge to be transparent,” says Dargan in the video. "I pledge to be innovative; I pledge to enable staff to do what they do on a daily basis, and to really run their organizations. I'm here to serve them. I'm here to assist them, hopefully to remove any obstacles that stand in their way."

"Retirement is just a name for a new chapter in life," he said, referring to his departure from Houston after two decades. "I'm looking forward to this new chapter."

Current acting Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone is also a public agency retiree, pulling two public pensions, one due to his service as COO for city of San Diego - $55,829 in 2021 according to the Transparent California website - and the other from the city of Pasadena, where he was finance director - amounting to $111,059 last year - which along with his 2021 acting COO salary of $272,642 totaled $439,530.

When the city advertised for a new COOin February, the salary spread for the permanent position was given as between $300,000 and $400,000. According to GovSalaries.com, which lists his title as Chief Operating Officer, Dargan’s 2019 City of Houston compensation was $220,626. "This salary is 269 percent higher than average and 273 percent higher than median salary in City of Houston,” per the site.

Neither Gloria nor Dargan spoke regarding the amount of his compensation during the video. A mayoral news release was also silent on the matter.

During the video, Gloria said a city council confirmation hearing is set for September 12. Until then, Goldstone will continue his acting tenure. Dargan is scheduled to take over on November 1, according to the mayor.

Regarding the mayor's sputtering efforts to deal with the city's burgeoning homeless crisis, Dargan said, "If I had an answer to the homeless situation, I'd probably be a millionaire by now."

"I don't have an answer for you today, but that will be on of the top items on the list that we will be evaluating...Stay tuned."

"An Arkansas native, Dargan attended college in Texas, earning his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Prairie View A&M University," according to the news release.

"He went on to earn his masters of science in electrical engineering at Michigan State University in 1991. While working at the City of Houston, Dargan received a Certified Public Manager accreditation through Sam Houston State University in 2007."

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The latest copy of the Reader

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But city wants to raise hotel taxes – not a help
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Aug. 3, 2022
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