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Windsor Town Manager Ken MacNab resigns

Windsor Town Manager Ken MacNab announced Thursday he is retiring, saying he was stepping down from public life for personal reasons.

His resignation is effective at the end of the year.

MacNab, who will be 55 next week, has been town manager for three years, and previously served as community development director for 2½ years. He and the town have spent the past several months dealing with waves of public criticism over Windsor’s handling of sexual assault allegations against former Mayor Dominic Foppoli.

“This is a very sad day for Windsor to lose our town manager” said Councilmember Debora Fudge, who has been on the town council since 1996. “He has done an absolutely stellar job for us in this brief period of our history. It would have been better if we had been able to appoint a fifth council member, moving on from our former mayoral situation.”

If it weren’t for that, and the council’s 2-2 deadlocks since Foppoli’s resignation, Fudge said, “I believe Ken would still be here with us today. I support him 100% and wish him all the best in the future.”

In an email to Windsor staff Thursday, MacNab said he was retiring from public service with “mixed emotions.”

“Without getting into detail, 2021 has been an exceptionally difficult year in my personal life. The events of this year have given me pause to reflect on the importance of health, family and work-life balance,” he said. “My resignation is based on those interests.”

Mayor Sam Salmon, who was selected as mayor by the council in June, said he respected MacNab’s decision.

“I think he gave this a lot of thought and made a decision based on his health and welfare,“ Salmon said. “I worked well with Ken, I believe, over the years he was manager. I hope we can go through a recruitment process and get a good replacement.”

The town was battered earlier this year when Foppoli was accused of rape, sexual assault or other misconduct by nine women, including Windsor Councilwoman Esther Lemus. Foppoli, who has not been arrested or charged with any crime, resigned in May after weeks of criticism.

The initial handling of warnings from two women about Foppoli’s behavior, including a 2017 email describing inappropriate actions during a 2013 hot tub party at Foppoli’s Christopher Creek Winery, has been criticized by town residents. The 2017 email to Windsor officials did not lead to a police investigation and was not provided to law enforcement at the time. MacNab, who was not the town’s manager at that time, said later that the woman had told Fudge that she didn’t want to press charges. The woman later disputed that.

Windsor was further roiled on Sept. 1 when Foppoli, 39, established a campaign committee and filed papers indicating an interest in running again for mayor. His announcement reopened wounds and drew widespread condemnation from leaders around the county.

MacNab said his decision had nothing to do with the controversy surrounding Foppoli, although he said “it hasn’t been easy for anyone.”

“It was obviously a stressful time not only for myself but for the council, the staff and the community. But it really is more about my own health and quality of life” he said. “The city manager job is generally a stressful job — it pays well but you’re on call 24/7.”

As far as the divided council, MacNab said “I think with the passage of time, our council will find a way to work together toward doing the business of the town, which is really what they all want to do.”

The town of Windsor itself is at a crossroads, he added.

“We’re a younger town experiencing growing pains,” he said. “It’s the classic decision: Do we want to stay like we are forever or find a way to evolve.”

MacNab, who lives in Santa Rosa with his wife, Lori, a consultant for Sonoma County’s open space district and the city of Napa, and has two children in college, said he isn’t planning to work another full-time job, but plans to take a few months off “to decompress” and then seek part-time work in his fields of community development and project management. He and his wife met while attending Sonoma State University. He is originally from La Cañada-Flintridge.

He has previously worked for the city of Santa Rosa, the city and county of Napa and the city of Calistoga.

MacNab said before he leaves he hopes to “make sure the process of selecting a replacement for me gets off to a good start. We have a really good team and they’ve performed very well under challenging circumstances. I want to make sure we hire someone that will be a good fit with our executive team”

You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at kathleen.coates@pressdemocrat.com.

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