ALAMEDA -- After nearly six years at City Hall, Assistant City Manager Lisa Goldman is leaving for Burlingame to become its city manager.
Although Burlingame has a smaller population than Alameda, with fewer than 29,000 residents compared with the Island's 74,000, the cities do share common traits, Goldman said.
"Burlingame has a very engaged community, like Alameda, and it also has two downtown districts," she said. Goldman will move from Oakland and become a Burlingame resident. She said she is excited about being at the helm of a city that boasts an Apple store, an auto row and a strong hotel and motel industry because of its proximity to San Francisco International Airport.
"I'm thinking about retail," said Goldman, who will become Burlingame's city manager in late December.
She pointed out the challenge of working in city government in a difficult economy.
"The past two years, the staff has done tremendous work to keep the budget under control while keeping core services," she said, citing the city's agreement in January to allow the nonprofit Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter to take over the shelter's services while the city maintains field control and animal control assistants. The action prevented closure of the facility since most of the services are performed by volunteers.
Other budget needs continue, she said, and Alameda city leaders need to continue to work on reining in pension costs and encouraging more retailers to set up shop to bring in sales tax revenues.
"I encourage whoever comes after me to stay the course, even when revenues come back," she said. "We've learned that the economy turns on a dime and goes bad very quickly, so we should restrain our expenditures. The money might not be there the next day."
Burlingame's city leaders unanimously chose Goldman for the post among a field of 56 candidates.
During her tenure in Alameda, Goldman worked with three different city managers beginning with Debra Kurita, then Ann Marie Gallant and most recently with John Russo. She said the key to success is to be adaptable and flexible with whoever is in charge.
Alameda City Manager John Russo described Goldman as "brilliant, ethical and completely ready for the number-one position.
"Burlingame is fortunate to get her," he said.
Russo said the city began the recruitment process Nov. 19, the day Goldman was notified of her new job. He said depending on the qualifications of the candidates the city will either hire a new assistant city manager or possibly a second deputy city manager.
Currently, the city has one deputy city manager, Alex Nguyen.
Goldman, 44, earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and a master's degree from the UC Berkeley, where she studied public policy. She lived in Palo Alto until she was 9 and her family moved to Southern California. She was a legislative assistant with the city of Fremont before taking her post in Alameda.