Sacramento City Manager John F. Shirey was presented with the Wes McClure Award of Distinction at the League of California Cities City Managers’ Department Meeting on Jan. 29 in San Francisco. The award honors a leader making a difference for the profession. The League’s city manager members consider giving the award annually to one city manager who has demonstrated outstanding career service, leadership, ethics, expertise and innovation in city management.
Pat Martel, the city manager of Daly City and an at-large representative of the League’s City Managers’ Department congratulated her colleague John Shirey on his dedication to the profession. “It can be challenging to strike the right balance between the myriad of priorities needed to lead a city, especially one the size of Sacramento. If anyone exemplifies the leadership it takes to manage finances while improving economic development, it’s John. He has an inherent ability to form partnerships, transform development areas into flourishing economic districts, and has invested in the professional development of others, making him a great leader. The City Managers’ Department is honored to present John with this distinguished award.”
The award is in memory of Wes McClure, a former city manager of San Leandro. McClure was greatly admired for his ability to work with city councils and contribute to the profession, as well as to the League and the state.
Through national and international roles, including Cal-ICMA, John Shirey has been instrumental in advocating and initiating programs to change ways in which local governments operate so that they better serve citizens. His decades of accomplishments in city management earned him the 2014 National Public Service award for his outstanding and lasting contributions to public service. The American Society for Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration presented Shirey the award.
Shirey, who began as Sacramento City Manager in the fall of 2011, took swift action to stabilize the City’s finances from double-digit deficits and layoffs to a $2 million surplus in this year’s budget. He took the City’s first step toward funding retiree medical coverage and negotiated with all labor unions to pay the employee share of retirement. Also in his three years, he has expanded economic opportunities, and has improved public safety to bring about the lowest crime rate across the board, resulting in some 5,000 fewer instances of crime over a two-year period. He has strongly advocated increased use of technology and encouraged innovation among City employees, all in an effort to become the “best managed City in California.”
Shirey is now guiding the development of a new $448 million Entertainment and Sports Center in the heart of downtown. The center has enabled the city to retain a coveted NBA franchise, salvage a flagging downtown shopping center, and spur investment in nearby properties and deteriorating and vacant buildings.
With 40-plus years of public service first inspired by watching President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech, John has an extensive portfolio of accomplishments. As City Manager in Cincinnati in the 1990s, he organized and led a joint city-county planning effort to develop a central riverfront master plan to include a MLB stadium and NFL stadium, a museum, and a riverfront park among other amenities. In the 1970s, his efforts helped begin years of reinvestment in downtown Long Beach and its waterfront, which stands today as one of the best examples of successful redevelopment in the nation.