Meet the New City Manager's Office

December 13, 2017
by Rick Cole

Meet the New City Manager's Office

Katie Lichtig, Anuj Gupta, and Rick Cole in Tongva Park

After open and competitive recruitments, I recently welcomed Assistant City Manager Katie Lichtig and Deputy City Manager Anuj Gupta to the City of Santa Monica. Katie’s role will focus on ensuring the effective operations of the City’s eleven departments and nearly 2,300 staff, while Anuj will spearhead the development and implementation of policy initiatives focused on community wellbeing, environmental sustainability, economic vitality, and social equity.

Katie returns to Santa Monica, where she began her career in local government. She has served as City Manager for San Luis Obispo for nearly eight years and in leading positions with the cities of Malibu and Beverly Hills before that. As City Manager of San Luis Obispo, Katie saw the city through the recent recession, leveraged existing funding to expand open space, and worked with community partners to fund construction of homeless service centers and new infrastructure.

Anuj recently served as General Counsel to Mayor Eric Garcetti in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs as well as Garcetti’s Director of Operations before that, spearheading key policy initiatives, including the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit. Anuj previously worked for the Obama White House and with the U.S. Department of Justice.

In the spirit of getting to know Katie, Anuj, and me better, a few questions were asked about our favorite places in Santa Monica and hopes for the community’s future as we endeavor to make the City more sustainable, inclusive, and thriving.

 

Rick Cole, City Manager

Q: Where is your favorite place to hang out in Santa Monica?

Rick Cole: I love Virginia Avenue Park! I get my hair cut across the street and usually find a reason to stop by Trader Joe’s nearby.

Q: What’s your neighborhood park?

RC: After Virginia Avenue Park, Palisades Park is an iconic gem. I’ll never get tired of looking out over the blue Pacific and our landmark Pier.

Q: Do you have an early memory of coming to Santa Monica?

RC: My father was born here, but that was long before me obviously. I have fond memories of coming to the 3rd Street Promenade starting back in 1989.

Q: What’s your biggest priority in your new role?

RC: The nature of my job is that my priorities reflect the City Council’s priorities. Right now, my highest priority is homelessness.

Q: What’s your biggest hope for Santa Monica’s future?

RC: In these dark and divided times nationally, I hope we can be a bright spot for vibrant democracy, constructive civic discourse and debate, and a model of 21st Century government.

Q: Do you have any tips for how to get involved in Santa Monica?

RC: Join a civic group or neighborhood council or volunteer for one of our many community nonprofits—or start one of your own and get others to join!

 

Katie Lichtig, Assistant City Manager

Q: Where is your favorite place to hang out in Santa Monica?

Katie Lichtig: An afternoon at the beach, relaxing and taking in the view of the Pacific. I used to go to Station 25 every weekend (and many weekdays) in the summer during my youth. On the weekdays, I would always take the Big Blue Bus!

Q: What’s your neighborhood park?

KL: They are all amazing. I cannot pick just one.

Q: Do you have an early memory of coming to Santa Monica?

KL: Who remembers POP (Pacific Ocean Park)?!? I was scared out of my mind anytime I rode that rollercoaster.

Q: What’s your biggest priority in your new role?

KL: Being of service to the City team as we work to implement our big vision to build on our past success and transform our services to enhance our positive impact on the Santa Monica community.

Q: What’s your biggest hope for Santa Monica’s future?

KL: That the community is knowledgeable, engaged, and thrilled with the service, programs, and operations of the City of Santa Monica.

Q: Do you have any tips for how to get involved in Santa Monica?

KL: Be optimistic and say “yes!” to new opportunities and possibilities.

 

Anuj Gupta, Deputy City Manager

Q: Where is your favorite place to hang out in Santa Monica?

Anuj Gupta: My wife, young son and I are at the Virginia Avenue Park’s farmers market almost every Saturday morning. Plus, I’m a sucker for the Pier whenever we have visitors in from out of town.

Q: What’s your neighborhood park?

AG: Clover Park is my son’s favorite. Between the great playgrounds, the fields where he’s loving his toddler “Kick and Play” soccer classes, and watching the airplanes, Clover has so much to offer.

Q: Do you have an early memory of coming to Santa Monica?

AG: My father always loved coming to Santa Monica, especially when we had family or friends visiting, so our whole family would drive across town from the San Gabriel Valley, have lunch at his favorite Italian spot, I Cugini (now occupied by Meat on Ocean), and walk up and down the Promenade.

Q: What’s your biggest priority in your new role?

AG: Ensuring that all of our great City departments and staff are working collaboratively to develop and implement innovative and effective policy solutions to the challenges that face us as a city—from sustainability to homelessness to mobility to economic prosperity.

Q: Do you have any tips for how to get involved in Santa Monica?

AG: Don’t hesitate to speak up and take part, and no step is too small: attend a Council meeting, apply to join a Board or Commission, and stay tuned to our great social media channels for the latest on events, news, and opportunities to engage with everything that’s going on in our great city!

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