Azusa City Manager Rick Cole, known for his energetic and outspoken style, said Thursday that he has accepted an offer for the top job in Ventura.
Cole, 50, told Azusa officials Wednesday that he would be resigning his post in the city of 45,000 to become Ventura's city manager in April, a position vacated earlier this month by Donna Landeros.
"The City Council in Ventura is getting a guy who is not afraid to speak and not afraid to take action," Cole said in a telephone interview Thursday from a growth conference in Portland, Ore.
Ventura Mayor Brian Brennan said a majority of the council agreed in closed session last week that Cole, a former Pasadena mayor, was the best of six finalists who interviewed for the job.
The offer, which is contingent on a background check and further salary negotiations, was made as Cole, his wife, Brennan and Councilwoman Christy Weir took a leisurely bicycle ride around downtown Ventura on Monday.
"He has a reputation for planning and vision and smart growth and has done a wonderful job in Azusa," Brennan said Thursday. "He has experience in both leadership and administrative positions. He's the right candidate for the job."
Weir said she believed Cole was "quite a visionary and a leader" but that she planned to go to Azusa next week with Brennan and Councilman Jim Monahan to meet with city leaders and people Cole has managed to get a better sense of his management style.
Cole, a former journalist, has been Azusa's city manager since 1998. He is credited with revitalizing its downtown and adding hundreds of single-family homes and light-industrial businesses.
During his 12 years on the Pasadena City Council -- he was mayor from 1992 to 1994 -- Cole helped revitalize a blighted downtown and successfully took the Tournament of Roses' executive committee to task for not including women and minorities on its board.
Cole garnered significant media attention about three years ago when he spray-painted over two words on a sexually explicit billboard touting the then-new Los Angeles Avengers arena football team. He voluntarily made donations to the city and the team and was not charged with a crime.
On Thursday, Cole said Ventura, with a population of 100,000, would be getting a city manager who "makes mistakes and isn't afraid to admit it."
Cole is married to Katherine Perez, executive director of the Southern California Transportation and Land Use Coalition, and the couple have twin daughters, Antonia and Lucia, age 5, and a son, 7-year-old Diego.
The annual salary range for the Ventura post is $131,000 to $176,000. Cole makes about $135,000 in Azusa.