DOWNEY — Sticking close to home, the City Council has chosen Fire Chief Don Davis as the city's top administrative officer.
The council selected Davis as city manager on a 4-1 vote Tuesday without interviewing any of the 40 applicants who had applied for the job vacated by Robert (Bud) Ovrom in May.
Ovrom left after two years to become Burbank's city manager, saying he had become frustrated by delays in the city's redevelopment efforts.
The only council member who voted against Davis was Mayor Bob Davila, who did not explain his vote and could not be reached for comment afterward.
The tall, soft-spoken Davis, 49, has served since Ovrom's departure as interim city manager. He will earn $72,000, which is $8,000 more than the $64,000 he was paid as fire chief.
"The more we looked the more it looked like the best man available was right here at home," said council member Robert Cormack. "We've had the opportunity to observe Don Davis for a number of years, and we've observed a man who has continually done a good job here from fireman on up."
"Things were going so well with Don," said council member Diane Boggs, who added that after Ovrom's departure, the council was looking for someone who would make Downey more than just a "career stop. With Don Davis, this will be the height of his career before retiring."
"Don's not a dictatorial boss who wants to be king," added council member Randy Barb. "He knows how to work with people and bring out their best, and he's a great teacher. His training programs in the Fire Department are excellent."
The council approved signing an employment agreement with Davis by a 4-1 vote that calls for giving Davis 20 days of vacation each year, a city car for business and personal use, and 120 days salary if he is fired.
In return, Davis has promised to spend at least four years as city manager, council members said.
Davis said he had mixed feelings about leaving the Fire Department, which he joined as a firefighter in 1958. He has been chief since 1978, and holds a two-year associate of arts degree from Rio Hondo Community College in firefighting science.
Davis said his major goal is redevelopment; the City Council is reviewing a plan to redevelop about 400 acres along Firestone Boulevard. A similar plan was invalidated last month by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, after a suit by a residents' group.
The new city manager said he also needs to find a new fire chief.