It’s tough enough to be the new guy in the office. Doubly so when the entity you work for – in this case the City of Glendale – is in the middle of a woefully prolonged economic downturn, which brings with it dwindling sources of revenue. Add to that a bitter battle with Sacramento over redevelopment funds and you might think a prospective newbie might think twice before jumping on board.
Not Scott Ochoa, Glendale’s new city manager.
“I saw it before during the recession of the early 1990s, so I’m familiar with the situation,” said Ochoa.
A native of Azusa, Ochoa spoke proudly of his parents and Chicano heritage. It was shortly before graduating Claremont McKenna College that the first step in Ochoa’s career path opened up.
“I took up an administrative internship position at the City of Monrovia,” he recalled. “I was blessed with that opportunity.”
Eventually the internship gave way to a staff position in Monrovia that he pursued while continuing his master’s studies at USC. From January 1993, Ochoa’s steadily rose as he hopped from department to department, culminating in his appointment as Monrovia’s city manager in 2004.
As it turns out, Ochoa also shares a Monrovia connection with his predecessor Jim Starbird: both were former city managers of that city, with Starbird’s tenure taking place during the 1980s.
“Glendale is a funny place like that,” he said. “I knew Jim [Starbird] a little bit after he left as he was still involved with local professional organizations. He was very inspiring.”
Ochoa also shares with Starbird a deep respect and love for Glendale.
“Jim always talked about how Glendale was his dream job,” said Ochoa. “For me it’s very much the same thing. Early on I knew I had to get to Glendale.”
During the past week, Ochoa has been warmly received by both his colleagues and by citizens. Though facing difficult times, Ochoa speaks with the devotion of a convert about his new city.
“I’ve always admired Glendale,” he said. “For me it has always been a gold standard for how a city ought to operate.”