Name: Beth Pollard
Occupation: City manager
What is your role as city manager? I help inform the of challenges to and opportunities for the city, and I advise them in policy direction. Once they’ve made a decision, I supervise the city staff to carry out the directions of the City Council.
How did you decide to go into this field? I used to cover cities as a newspaper reporter in high school and college. I just kept finding myself attracted to the inner workings of the city. For me it was interesting how people with different interests and perspectives can come together and shape their city.
What kind of preparation did that take? A master’s of public administration. I went back to school, to CSU Hayward, in my 20s to get a master’s when I realized I wanted to get into management. I started out at entry level in Fairfax. I went to school nights and weekends. I started as secretary to the city administrator in San Anselmo; seven years later, I was the city administrator.
What is your biggest challenge as city manager? I think it’s the very thing that makes it interesting – the different perspectives and interests. Helping the decision-makers make informed decisions that also respect the various opinions of the community, within our limited resources. Prioritizing – we really do have to prioritize our time and our money.
What do you like best about your job? One of my favorite things on the job is when I see people with strong, passionate, opposing opinions on one subject, and a few months later they can come together on another issue. People in Albany can disagree passionately on one subject and agree passionately on another. That’s what a community is all about: people can disagree on ideas but not be disagreeable, and they can change allies, depending on the issue.
How did you decide to take a ? We’ve been working on the budget for some time. Really all of the Albany city employees are taking a cut of some kind; the management level’s taking up more of their own pension costs. It’s part of what all the employees in Albany are stepping up to do, because we want to provide as many services as we can and employ as many people as we can.
Is it hard, as both an Albany resident and the city manager, not to have an opinion yourself? I genuinely feel that I see the different sides of an issue. Every once in a while, I may have a strong opinion on something. My strong opinion has to be [on the side of] what’s best for Albany.
How do you spend your free time? I like [working] in the garden, reading, being with friends and family. I work out at the . I’m in a book group; [that] forces me to have free time!
Is there anything you’d like to add? Albany is a wonderful place to manage. I’m fortunate to work in a city where people are well-educated and have such passion for the future and the community.
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