Merced names Stephanie Dietz as new city manager
‘Our residents and our businesses need us now more than ever
to collectively work together to come up
with creative solutions to move this city forward.’
– Stephanie Dietz,
in comments to the Merced City Council
after leaders approved her hiring as the new city manager
After an extensive search for a new city manager — resulting in 19 applicants across seven states — Merced leaders decided to stick with a hometown Merced College grad who is already on the job.
On Monday night, the City Council unanimously named Stephanie Dietz as city manager charged with heading up a myriad of operational functions, including Police, Fire, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Economic Development, Engineering, Development Services, Information Technology, Human Resources while also serving as the City Clerk.
“I’m humbled by this opportunity and will work each day to not only further your collective goals and priorities, but to meet the challenge of these trying times,” Dietz told the council members. “Our residents and our businesses need us now more than ever to collectively work together to come up with creative solutions to move this city forward.”
As far as the Times can determine, Dietz is the first woman to hold the position in many, many decades, and perhaps ever. A list of city officials that dates back to the city’s 1889 incorporation doesn’t appear to include a woman in such a position, though some of the early names are listed with initials.
The inspiration of a woman working hard to earn such a role in the community was not lost on City Councilwoman Jill McLeod.
“I think it’s really important to our children, to our boys and girls, that they have an example of women in the upper echelons of leadership, and I am very proud of you,” McLeod said.
Mayor Mike Murphy said the council wanted to hire a leader familiar with the unique inner workings of the city and community.
“We knew that we wanted someone with good judgment, someone in tune with our city,” he said. “The Council unanimously agreed that her demonstration of critical decision-making and leadership made it apparent that she was the correct candidate.”
Councilman Matt Serratto, who is poised to be sworn in as the next mayor, told Dietz: “We had a great candidate pool … and it showed how you rose to the top, and how impressive you are, and how lucky we are to have you and to have someone from Merced leading the city. We have a lot of work ahead of us in these next couple of years. I know you are up for it, and I’m excited for the future of this city.”
Dietz, 40, has spent the past four years as Merced’s assistant city manager, most recently serving as interim city manager. Dietz’s accomplishments include implementing the Arts and Culture Advisory Commission, developing a Legislative Program to advocate for grant funding and resources, and working with community leaders to complete beautification projects. As assistant city manager, Dietz spent much of her time shaping the work environment, enhancing department functions and service delivery, and leading labor negotiations.
She replaces former City Manager Steve Carrigan who the council severed ties with during a closed session in late July. No reason was publicly released over why Carrigan was terminated due to personnel rules. However, in the months preceding the firing, Mayor Murphy had made it known during public meetings that he wasn’t in agreement with certain aspects of how Carrigan was handling decisions during the city’s State of Emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to coming to the city, Dietz spent 10 years working for Merced County, interrupted by almost three years of work at UC Merced. Expanding partnerships was a primary focus for Dietz when first joining the city. Using her existing network, she built new relationships elevating the city’s presence at the state and regional levels.
Dietz has served as a co-chair of the Northern San Joaquin Valley Regions Rise program which is part of the state’s economic development initiative. Coordinating regional planning efforts, she was able to secure additional resources to address homelessness. Working closely with law enforcement officials, Dietz helped identify creative ways to support the Police Department through the Merced Crisis Response Team. During the early COVID-19 pandemic crisis, she brought together non-profit and faith-based organizations to meet the needs of vulnerable populations.
After graduating from Merced College, Dietz earned a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State, and a master’s from National University. She is also a graduate of the California State Association of Counties Senior Executive credential program.
Today she is well established and rooted in Merced. She and her husband Teddy Dietz have two children, Tyler and Madysen.
Dietz’s starting annual salary will be $214,966.13 with full city benefits.