By Raiza Giorgi

Photo contributed

After recently being hired as administrative services director, Xenia Bradford has accepted a new title as acting city manager until the Solvang City Council finds a permanent replacement for David Gassaway. 

After just five months on the job, Gassaway resigned Sept. 9 at the request of the same City Council that hired him. A council majority of Mayor Ryan Toussaint and Councilmen Chris Djernaes and Daniel Johnson asked for his resignation, not citing any reasons. 

Gassaway’s employment agreement calls for him to receive a severance package of six months’ salary, or approximately $87,500, plus six months of health benefits. 

Bradford accepted the job after the council first offered the position to Public Works Director Matt van der Linden, but he declined the role, saying his plate was already full with upcoming projects such as improvements to the wastewater treatment plant. 

“I really feel I can best serve the city in my current position, but I was glad to have been offered the role. Xenia will do a great job in this position,” van der Linden told the Star. 

Bradford came to Solvang recently from San Luis Obispo, where she managed 18 employees as finance director. Her prior experience includes working with the County Executive Office of Santa Barbara County as well as in the private sector.

She was also an applicant in the recruitment process for a new Solvang city manager that started with the prior City Council, according to a press release. 

“I look forward to working closely with the City Council to deliver on council goals. It has been a pleasure working for the city of Solvang as a consultant since May 2018 and as administrative services director since April of this year,” Bradford said.

She will continue to manage the Finance, Human Resources and IT departments as administrative services director while also taking on the new responsibility of acting city manager.

“As a member of the finance committee, I’ve worked very closely with Xenia on the development of the budget,” Mayor Ryan Toussaint said in the press release. “Both Daniel Johnson and I have had a very positive experience with Xenia. She is very capable and will certainly excel with her new responsibilities.”