New Acting City Manager | Fire Chief Paul Riddle Weighs in on Critical Role

The South Pasadena fire chief takes over after the departure of former City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe and amid major controversy at City Hall. Five finance directors were hired and replaced during DeWolfe’s two-year, 10 month tenure on the job in which more than a half dozen department heads were let go

FILE PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Fire Chief Paul Riddle of the South Pasadena Fire Department

When South Pasadena’s city manager was removed from her seat last weekend, City Council members turned to one of its most trusted individuals to guide the city’s path during unprecedented and trying times, even if will only be on a short term basis.

South Pasadena Fire Chief Paul Riddle will also handle the role of acting city manager, teaming with Elaine Aguilar, slated for appointment at Wednesday’s City Council as the city’s interim assistant city manager. Aguilar is no stranger to South Pasadena after serving briefly as interim city manager in 2017 after former City Manager Sergio Gonzales departed the city. Aguilar, hardworking and good-natured, has 30 years of government experience.

Riddle will be asked to restore and bring back confidence to a shattered financial situation at South Pasadena City Hall where the budget is in question and management has become a major controversy. Five finance directors were hired and replaced during DeWolfe’s two-year, 10-month tenure on the job in which more than a half dozen department heads were let go.

The new acting city manager believes those currently employed will strive to make a difference as the city looks to move beyond the riddle of complaints from community members..

“As far as restoring trust at City Hall, as acting city manager, I realize my time in the assignment will be temporary,” said Riddle. “I feel one of the most important things I can do is support staff during this transitional period! We have amazing people working for this city and they need to know they will be supported through this change in city leadership. I also feel it is equally important to be available to this community and listen to their concerns.”

Employed by the South Pasadena Fire Department, Riddle stressed that he has worked alongside the community for 29 years and “have established many friendships,” he said. “I have seen this community come together during difficult times and I have no doubt this time will be no different.”

He plans to take the dual role in stride, remaining the fire chief during his time as acting city manager. “I have an amazing command staff who are assisting me with the day to day operations of the department,” said Riddle. “Even with the recent deployments to area fires, the fire department is fully staffed and moral remains high.”

As he settles into the acting city manager position, Riddle said his priorities during the first few days “is simply to get caught up on the status of pending issues and work alongside the City Council to see them through.”

A top priority will be to meet with city staff “and simply let them know we are in this together,” he said. “I am humbled and honored to have been selected by the City Council to act as city manager during the recruitment process. I do not take the assignment lightly and will work tirelessly to see this through.”