Emeryville City Manager Carolyn Lehr announces decision to retire

1 min read

Three year Emeryville City Manager Carolyn Lehr announced her retirement today. In a memo addressed to her staff and sent to city committee members, Lehr acknowledged her decision was based on her recent 65th birthday and the impending end of her three-year contract with the city.

Lehr, whom we interviewed in-depth when she took the helm in 2015, came to the city following the resignation of Sabrina Landreth who took the City Administrator job with the City of Oakland. Lehr brought an extensive background in administering local governments to Emeryville including being the city manager of Rancho Palos Verdes in Southern California.

Lehr’s steady leadership helped guide the city out of a recent fiscal crisis that involved cuts and staff layoffs. Her departure comes at a time when there are several high-profile projects in the queue including a forthcoming $50 million bond measure and the long anticipated South Bayfront Bridge.

Lehr lives in nearby Piedmont and is married to Obama administration alumni Tony Scott.

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Dear Valued Staff Members,

Happy Friday! Isn’t this when we typically drop news on you, so we have the weekend as a buffer?

As I was preparing for the discussion of renewing my employment contract with the City Council, I realized it was time for me to consider an alternative. My career in local government has spanned 33 years, and having “celebrated” my 65th birthday this year, I naturally began to question how much longer I expect to work full time.

So, about a week ago I advised a very surprised Mayor Bauters that it was more sensible and considerate for me to discuss my retirement. We had a great chat, and by the end of the conversation, I felt good about the timing—if not nervous about facing such a daunting life change.

I will continue to serve in my position through June 30, which is the end of the fiscal year. I hope to make the most of these next four months—advancing major projects with your help, putting into place those policies and system improvements we’ve been meaning to address, and listening to you!

I can assure you that when the time comes, I will be out there promoting the City of Emeryville as a dynamic and fulfilling city to work for—and one that recognizes and values talent.

My deepest appreciation for all you do,

— Carolyn

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


  1. I work for the City of Emeryville, and I have to take issue with your characterization of Ms. Lehr as having guided the city out of a fiscal crisis – in fact, she guided the city into the crisis, which happened in the first year of the first budget she developed. Staff layoffs are still on the table from that budget, morale is low (although this news caused widespread celebration in city offices on Friday), and staff wonder how we managed to be in a deficit during boom economic times. In addition, only one of the department heads who were here when she arrived is still here. Just one. That is not leadership. The city will be better off with a more skilled City Manager at the helm. Let’s hope Council finds good candidates and makes a good choice.

    • Thank you for speaking up and I appreciate your insight. If you, or ANYONE in the city has any additional insights into the morale of our local government bodies, please contact us and I will promise your anonymity. The only way we as residents can positively impact the way our city government operates is by getting these issues out in the open to discuss.

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