Tracy city administrator was put to the test right away in first year

TRACY CITY ADMINISTRATOR KRIS AMBUEHL is coming up on his one-year anniversary of his tenure in Tracy. Photo / Per Peterson

Just a week into his tenure, Kris Ambuehl saw his new hometown flood. Looking back on his first year in office, he’s proud of his work — and how the city has overcome some pretty tough times.

By Per Peterson

Kris Ambuehl likes a challenge.

He got one in Tracy.

In doing his homework leading up to his interview during the hiring process for city administrator, Ambuehl found discord and rancor within the walls of City Hall. It was a tenuous time in town on a number of different levels, and the city was looking for a leader — someone who could right the ship and put the past behind the city all at the same time.

“My No. 1 goal was to eliminate the negative reasons the city was in the paper,” he said. “There were problems. Communication was one of the biggest breakdowns in all of this. Even small problems I’ve seen since I’ve been here, communication is the key.”

Ambuehl was hired on May 25, 2018, and started his administrator duties in Tracy a month later.

Leading up to Ambuehl’s hire, controversy and fingerpointing were abundant. The city administrator position was left vacant after the previous administrator left under a cloud of controversy and vitriol. A city councilman had also just survived a recall petition brought by a Tracy resident.

At the risk of sounding cocky, Ambuehl said in a recent interview that he felt he could be the solution to the city’s personnel woes.

“I thought I could get in the middle of it … I can have a conversation with anybody,” he said. “I’m no better than anybody in this town and nobody’s better than me. I think that we’re all on equal planes. When it comes to talking to people, you’ve just got to find out what motivates them, what their needs are. Sometimes in these roles, people get immune to that. And the day that I become callous to that, I don’t want to do this anymore.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.