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  Upvalley native Laura Snideman hired as Calistoga's new City Manager | News |
January 19, 2022

They should have talked to me!

Upvalley native Laura Snideman hired as Calistoga's new City Manager

Cynthia Sweeney

Jan 19, 2022 Updated 56 min ago

Upvalley native and Bay area government official Laura Snideman has been chosen to serve as Calistoga’s next City Manager.

The City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday to hire Snideman. Councilmember Lisa Gift was absent.

Most recently, Snideman served as Richmond's City Manager, from January 2020 to December 2021. She served for five years as Fairfield's Assistant City Manager, from 2014 to 2020, and previously served as City Manager for the City of Half Moon Bay from 2010 to 2014. She was also hired in 2014 as executive officer of the Napa County Local Agency Formation Commission. She  has a master's degree in Public Administration.

The City went through a thorough recruitment process to find a new City Manger in a difficult market, said City Attorney Michelle Kenyon.

“We are very fortunate that we have someone who is quite familiar with Napa Valley and Calistoga specifically, and someone who is coming to us with a great deal of experience,” said Mayor Chris Canning.

Snideman will be Calistoga’s third City Manager in the past five years. She will begin her new position Feb. 1, replacing Interim City Manager Brad Kilger. Kilger was hired in July, after the resignation of Mike Kirn in May. Kirn, the City’s previous Planning and Building Director, replaced Dylan Feik, who served for three years.

Snideman’s salary will be $229,800 per year, or $19,150 monthly. Kirn’s salary was $217,000.

The proposed contract provides the same benefits accorded City Department Directors. It also provides nine months of severance and health benefits if the City terminates the Agreement without cause. The health insurance benefit will be limited to the lesser of nine months or until City Manager finds other employment, whichever occurs first.

Referring to his experience with previous City Manager recruitments, Councilmember Gary Kraus said, “Laura is by far the best candidate we’ve seen during my 15 years on the City Council. During the previous recruitment processes, we never had a unanimous decision made so quickly and enthusiastically.”

Snideman spent part of her childhood living in St. Helena and recalled attending parades and special events in Calistoga. She has lived Upvalley for the past eight years.

“I’m thrilled for both personal and professional reasons to have an opportunity to serve in such a great community," Snideman said.

Richmond termination

Although Snideman has been enthusiastically embraced by the Calistoga City Council, her exit from the City of Richmond was rocky.

In a closed session in November, the Richmond City Council voted to terminate Snideman’s contract, which a source familiar with the situation says resulted in her resignation.

According to several local news outlets, the town’s mayor, Tom Butt, is facing possible litigation for violating the Brown Act in disclosing that council’s action and an approved severance package in his public newsletter.

The Mercury News reported the City Council’s action followed months of clashes among Butt and the council, with his actions resulting in a division within the council, and a majority of councilmembers approving a resolution condemning statements made in Butt’s newsletter about the Snideman’s job performance.

In December, Butt was also hit with a restraining order for allegedly violating client-attorney privilege by posting "confidential" information on his regularly updated online newsletter.

Of Snideman’s appointment in Calistoga, Mayor Chris Canning said, “We were aware of the situation throughout the interview process and we are not concerned as the circumstances of that situation were very specific to that city.”