PASADENA — A black city official from Newark, N.J., has been named to fill the newly created post of assistant city manager for human services.
Callie Struggs, 47, Newark's director of health and human services for the past four years, was selected from among 200 applicants nationwide, said Ramon Curiel, Pasadena's director of human resources. He said Struggs will start work in the $88,000-a-year post Sept. 4.
Struggs is the first staff appointment by City Manager Philip Hawkey, whose selection in April over two black finalists generated outrage in the city's minority communities. Hawkey was perceived as the wrong choice because of racial problems in Toledo, Ohio, where he was city manager. Although Hawkey chose a black woman to fill his first high-level appointment, he still may face criticism for selecting an outsider for the job, said Michael Milliner, former president of the Pasadena Black Municipal Employees Assn. Several city employees applied for the post, and one was among the eight semifinalists, Curiel said.
"I personally think it's a move in the right direction, but there are others who don't think hiring someone from that far is a good idea," Milliner said. "She's going to have to disarm . . . and to initiate relationships with the very same people out there on the picket lines when the decision to hire Hawkey was made."
But those who were critical of Hawkey will have to wait and assess Struggs on the job, said Gerda Steele, a former city administrator who had been critical of the city's treatment of blacks and women.
The job of assistant city manager for human services was created last year by the city Board of Directors after an audit indicated a need for it, Curiel said.
Recruitment began in January, and three finalists were chosen in the weeks before retiring City Manager Donald McIntyre left the job. Hawkey then inherited the final choice, Curiel said. The other two finalists were black men.
Struggs, who is divorced and has three grown children, is originally from Dallas, where she worked for 13 years in real estate, the oil industry and electronics before obtaining a degree in business administration from Southern Methodist University in 1974. She received a master's degree in urban studies in 1975 from Occidental College in Los Angeles.
She spent three years as Dallas director of health and human services before being hired by Newark in 1986. In that job, she oversees 500 employees and a $50-million annual departmental budget.
Her boss, Newark Business Administrator Richard Monteilh, characterized Struggs as a capable administrator. "If she errs, it's on the side of independence."
Struggs, reached by phone in Newark, said being an outsider will be an advantage in Pasadena. "Because I have no allegiances, the community has an opportunity to give me direction," she said.
Hawkey was out of town last week and could not be reached for comment.