The city of Ventura has a new leading man.

Call him Watkins. Mark Watkins.

On Monday, Feb. 11, the Ventura City Council voted unanimously to appoint Watkins, 51, as the new city manager. He will replace interim City Manager Johnny Johnston, who took over after eight-year City Manager Rick Cole resigned in September at the request of the City Council.

Watkins, who resides in Ventura, has been the assistant city manager of Thousand Oaks since July 2011. Prior to that position, Watkins served for six years as Thousand Oaks’ director of public works director, which is the city’s largest department, with more than 200 employees and annual general
fund moneys of close to $12 million. He also worked for the city of Ventura from 1987 to 2001 as a civil engineer and a maintenance services manager.

A field of 38 candidates for the city manager position had been narrowed down to three during the past month of interviews. Watkins rose to the top because of his ties to the city of Ventura and his background in city management, said Mayor Mike Tracy.

“He is really exposed to different aspects of city government and that, combined with his love of Ventura, puts him in a great position to lead the city forward,” Tracy said.
Watkins’ contract with Ventura is expected to be approved Feb. 25, and he is expected to join the city mid-March.

The Ventura city manager position pays $160,000 to $214,000, according to the city’s salary schedule.