Cloverdale set to hire former Willits city manager for interim role

Cloverdale is poised to hire an interim city manager who departed as the top administrator in Willits last month.

Paul Cayler, 47, the former city manager in Willits, is scheduled to be hired at tonight's Cloverdale City Council meeting.

Although the Willits News said Cayler was "fired," Cloverdale officials disputed that description.

"Fired is not a correct verbiage," said Cloverdale Mayor Joe Palla, who said Cayler's contract was not renewed in Willits. It was not because of performance deficiencies or inappropriate behavior, he said.

"It was more that he was released from his contract, based on the fact they wanted to move in a different direction. It's very common with city managers and in some cases, police chiefs," Palla said.

When Cayler's departure was announced, the city of Willits released a statement saying the City Council "has chosen to pursue a different direction with regard to the City Manager position."

It credited Cayler with joining the city during tough economic times, and having "competency and skill while demonstrating the highest ethical standards and honesty."

Willits Mayor Holly Madrigal said Tuesday "we decided to go in a different direction, but it's not a reflection on the quality of Paul's work. He was a great city manager while he was with us."

She declined to elaborate on the new direction that led to the separation. "Because it's a personnel matter I can't go into details," she said.

Both Palla and Cloverdale City Councilwoman Carol Russell, who were on a subcommittee that recommended Cayler as interim city manager, said he is a good choice to fill in for the next four to six months, until a full-time city manager is chosen.

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