Ashley At Last

The Sandpiper asked our new City Manager to comment on her appointment and the challenges facing her. Here is her response.

Photo courtesy Ashley Jones

In February 2021, the City Council asked that I step in and lead the City for an interim period following the prior City Manager’s departure, which I was happy to do. It helped to minimize impacts to City staff and provided the City Council with the time they needed to decide how they wanted to proceed with identifying a new City Manager. During the almost 6 years I have been serving the Del Mar community as Administrative Services Director and now in the role of City Manager (I started in May 2016), I have developed relationships with a broad spectrum of Del Mar residents and have a very good understanding of the community dynamics. I have also had the opportunity to build strong working relationships with Council members, understanding what is most important to each of them in their role as elected officials. These factors, along with the fact that we have a fantastic executive team and City staff, were those that led me to accept the permanent position of City Manager in December 2021. 


If there is one thing I have learned about Del Mar, there is never a dull moment! This is a community that doesn’t shy away from being engaged and taking on big issues, which I appreciate. In my opinion, local government works best when the community is paying attention and staying engaged, no matter the topic. In Del Mar, big topics can be things like SANDAG’s bluff stabilization and rail realignment efforts; NCTD’s proposed fencing plan; preparing for sea level rise; developing and implementing a Housing Element that works for Del Mar, including pursuit of affordable units at the Del Mar Fairgrounds; Climate Action Plan implementation; recovering from significant revenue losses resulting from the pandemic, and utility undergrounding to name a few. 


One of the biggest challenges I have faced so far as City Manager is managing the City during a global pandemic, the impacts of which are unprecedented. It is extremely important to me to take every step possible to help prevent the spread of the virus and maintain a safe and healthy work environment for City employees and the public we serve. We’ve been able to do that so far by taking a variety of actions, which include maintaining reduced staffing levels at City facilities, requiring indoor masking in City facilities (whether required under the public health order or not), and most recently by implementing an employee vaccination policy. 


For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of being a City Manager, and public servant in general, is being able to make a difference and do things that have a positive impact on the local community. I love getting to know community members and hope that residents find me, along with the rest of our City staff, to be approachable and helpful. Being responsive and providing a very high level of customer service is a top priority for me. I also like being able to work with the Council and staff to find creative solutions to difficult issues whenever possible. Throughout my more than twenty-one years in local government, I have always endeavored to leave any agency I have worked for in a better place than I found it, which I hope to do in Del Mar.