By Haley Sawyer
After rescinding its offer to the previous candidate, the City Council last week voted unanimously to approve South Pasadena’s newest city manager.
Armine Chaparyan will take the reins as city manager officially on Monday, May 31, taking over the duties of interim City Manager Sean Joyce. Formally, Chaparyan will replace Stephanie DeWolfe, whom the council parted ways with in September.
“We look forward to working with [Armine] and are very grateful to our interim city manager, who had anticipated that he would be gone by now and returning to a lovely life in retirement,” said Mayor Diana Mahmud, “but we are so very grateful that you have decided to stay with us until Ms. Chaparyan is ready to start her work year.”
Her appointment comes after the council rescinded its offer to Christopher Jordan in late April, in response to backlash from some residents whose public comments criticized the council for its then-decision. Those residents questioned the timing of Jordan’s resignation as city manager of Los Altos in November and also expressed concern about his time with a city in Oregon, which included the hiring of a police chief later embroiled in a false arrest scandal that resulted in one of the state’s largest settlements.
Chaparyan is the current assistant city manager in San Gabriel and has worked in municipal government for 15 years. She has a master’s degree in public administration from USC and attended Pasadena’s John Muir High School.
“Now that it’s official, I am extremely excited to be named the next City Manager for the City of South Pasadena!” Chaparyan wrote in a post on LinkedIn. “This has been my career goal and I am thrilled to start the next chapter.”
Chaparyan’s employment agreement includes a four-year term with an annual salary of $215,000. She took questions from residents at a public forum a week prior to her official appointment.
Joyce served as interim city manager starting in September and previously assumed the role from 1996-2004 before going on to become the city manager of Irvine. He was appointed after the council voted to sever its contract with DeWolfe, who announced her retirement shortly after. Her tenure became a political lightning rod as allegations of financial and administrative mismanagement mounted throughout last year’s budgeting session.
Moving forward, Chaparyan will be expected to stabilize the city’s administrative team, lead city hall in trust-building efforts to clear up fiscal shortcomings and changes to law enforcement and guide the city as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
“If there is a water leak, whether it’s Memorial Day or not,” Joyce said, “you’ll be hearing from Armine about that. I know that she’s excited, anticipates approval this evening and does so with great enthusiasm.”
In related news, Brian Solinsky was also formally appointed as the new police chief at the council meeting. Solinsky, the deputy chief who has served as interim since Joe Ortiz retired in November, has more than 27 years of experience with the department and was selected after a recruiting effort that included community input collected at a forum in March.
Joyce conferred Solinsky’s appointment with Chaparyan prior to making the commitment.
“I’m truly honored to be here to represent not only the men and women of the police department, but the residents of South Pasadena,” said Solinsky at the council meeting. “I wanted to express my philosophy, and that is to have a police department that is highly visible, accessible and responsive yet policing with compassion, purpose and in partnership with the community.”