Q&A with Paso Robles City Manager Tom Frutchey
I thought it would be interesting to do a Q&A with the new Paso Robles city manager. It’s part professional, part personal, and I think it’s important to be able to get to know our city officials better. Thank you to Tom Frutchey for agreeing to do this. Now let’s get to know our city manager.
Q&A with Paso Robles City Manager Tom Frutchey
Where are you from?
New England. My family came originally from Pennsylvania. For many years there was a town called Frutcheys, Pennsylvania. (We don’t like to talk about it too much, however, because it was started by horse thieves.)
What brought you here and how long have you been here?
I have been city manager in Paso Robles since late January, so still very new to this wonderful community.
What did you do prior to becoming the Paso Robles city manager?
I have been city manager in four California cities before coming to Paso Robles, most recently Pacific Grove in Monterey County. I have also spent a good part of my career in the private sector (for example, serving as president of a manufacturing company) which has helped shape my approach to local government management.
What are some of your responsibilities as city manager?
Under the council/manager form of local government, the council sets policy, adopts the budget, and approves ordinances. It is the city manager’s job to ensure the mayor and council members have the best information on which to make their decisions, and to carry out their decisions in the manner that best serves the community.
What do you like best about your job?
Not sure I can pick one thing out. Working in a town like Paso Robles, in a job like mine, provides me so many opportunities to help make things better for our residents, businesses, and visitors. It may sound corny, especially in our cynical era, but that is truly what drives me every day. There are few jobs that provide so many opportunities. I am very fortunate.
What’s your least favorite thing in your job?
Employee discipline. Fortunately, we have great employees.
Generally speaking, how do you think Paso Robles is doing?
Given all of the issues going on around us, and the challenges that our residents and businesses are facing, our community is doing incredibly well overall. We need to do better, however. We aren’t building enough workforce and affordable housing, we haven’t achieved the council’s goal of developing a more balanced job market, with more head of household jobs, and we haven’t yet solved our water issues, among others. We are working on all of them, and know that, working in partnership with our community, can be successful.
Do you have some things you want to see happen in Paso Robles? If so, what?
More career-development jobs, more housing options, ensuring kids have a safe home and neighborhood in which to grow up, ensuring our residents are able to feel secure about their futures here; those are all things we need to—and can—accomplish. I think it’s important for citizens to be involved in their community or at the very least, be educated about the things that are going on.
What are the best ways for people to educate themselves on things happening in Paso Robles and how could they be more involved?
That is a perennial challenge, in every community. We put out a weekly summary every Friday that details the occurrences during the week and the upcoming events. People can receive it by e-mail or by checking our website. People can e-mail me with requests or questions and I will ensure they are answered (firstname.lastname@example.org). Scanning the council agenda packets or attending a council meeting are other ways to become informed. The council members, staff, and I are all very accessible. That is one of the strengths of local government: people can talk to any of us at the grocery store, the gas station, anywhere they see us, or by making an appointment, to let us know what they think and ask us for information. Many people don’t realize what a difference their participation can make in helping the council determine the services that we should offer. Other people see a problem (such as a pothole or broken limb on a street tree) and don’t think to tell us, because they are certain we know about it and aren’t doing anything. Most likely, we don’t even know about it. Please help us all out by bringing problems to our attention (you can call (805) 237-3888 anytime; if we aren’t there, the phone will take a message.
What is your most rewarding professional moment?
The most rewarding moment so far was when we were able to meet with all of the homeless camping in the Salinas River bed, provide them information on available services, and ensure that none were still in the river bed when the last two major storms came through and the water started flowing strongly. Until that moment, we were very concerned that someone might not be willing or able to leave and would be in serious danger due to the rising waters.
Both. Suzanne is by far the best half of our marriage, and is now retired. She ran not-for-profits for many years, including chapters of the United Way, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Cancer Support Community in San Fernando Valley and Ventura County. Two wonderful daughters. The older is 28, and a veterinarian in Claremont. The younger is a public health dietician, specializing in oncological nutrition. Whoever left them in baskets on our porch was very generous.
What do you enjoy doing when not working?
Reading, working on the house, and bicycling. At my age, I find the simple pleasures most rewarding, especially since they are the only ones I can still do!.
What’s your favorite thing about Paso Robles, personally not professionally?
That is a tough one. Weather, wineries, downtown restaurants, western heritage, small town friendliness; the list could go on and on. If I would have to pick one, it would be the hills and valleys on the back roads that surround our community. Being a pretty serious road cyclist, I am overjoyed that there are great rides with stunning scenery that start just a few minutes from my back door.