By Jorge Casuso
August 12, 2009 -- City Manager P. Lamont Ewell -- who is widely credited with putting Santa Monica on a strong financial footing during tough economic times -- announced Wednesday that he would resign from his post at the end of the year.
Ewell said he wanted to end his 34 years of public service on "the high note of serving the Santa Monica community," according to a statement released by his office.
His early announcement will give the City Council plenty of time to launch a nationwide search for a replacement to manage a City staff of some 2,000 workers, the statement said.
“It is with great satisfaction that I have been able to answer in my work life what I believe to be one of the highest callings -- public service," Ewell wrote in a statement.
"I am grateful for all my years of service and especially proud to end my career serving one of the greatest cities in the nation. I want to thank the community and the highly talented City workforce for our exceptional partnership.”
City officials said Ewell would be missed.
"Lamont is an inspiring manager, skilled administrator, potent negotiator, and, always, a consummate gentleman," said Council member Kevin McKeown. "He will be impossible to replace."
Ewell will retire after having served as Santa Monica City Manager for four years. During his tenure, he is credited with building strong relationships with residents, the business community and such City institutions as Santa Monica College, the School District and the Chamber of Commerce.
"Lamont Ewell has been a great friend both to me and to the Chamber," said Laurel Rosen, the chamber's president and CEO. "His presence has had a significant impact on our community in so many positive ways, and he is a tough act to follow.
"We will all miss him very much, and thank him for sharing his wisdom and vision with us," Rosen said. "We wish him the very best."
He also is credited with restructuring City operations to better deliver services and appointing new department heads, while maintaining a healthy general fund budget during a turbulent economy that has seen cities across the nation lay off workers and slash services.
Ewell also oversaw the allocation of $300 million worth of Redevelopment projects and moved forward the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) that will shape the face of the city for the next quarter century.
Before taking the Santa Monica post, Ewell served as the City Manger for the City of San Diego. He began his career as a firefighter in Compton and worked his way up the ranks to become Oakland's fire chief.
Credited with helping to rebuild the fire-ravaged area, he was later named Oakland's assistant city manager, going from there to become the city manager of Durham, North Carolina, before moving on to San Diego.
Ewell said retirement will allow him to spend more time to focus attention on his family. His “next adventure” will include working through a long list of travels that he and his wife, Mary, have set their sights on over their 32 year marriage.