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Deese takes over Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Feb 11 2012 12:00 PM

Former National City Assistant City Manager Leslie Deese is now the city manager.

The City Council announced the appointment during a January council meeting.

Deese, 51, is only the second female city manager for National City since 1950 and has worked for the city 26 years.

She replaced previous city manager Chris Zapata, who served the city for eight years and left last month after he was hired as the San Leandro city manager.

Zapata said that Deese is the right person at the right time.

“There’s no one who cares more about National City than Leslie Deese,” Zapata said.

“Whenever you get a person who has worked for an organization for more than 20 years, and risen level by level … that’s a strong statement that the mayor and City Council made in hiring her.”

Deese first joined National City as a secretary to the assistant city manager in 1986, then was promoted to executive assistant to the city manager and later became the community services director.

Deese was promoted to assistant city manager in 2007 and started with a salary of nearly $120,000.

Deese will oversee the city’s $114.5 million budget and 300 employees serving some 60,000 residents, businesses and visitors.

Deese said she is immediately focused on listening to the community and employees.

“I want to make sure we bring the highest quality of services to our residents and businesses in an efficient way,” she said.

Deese said one of her immediate goals is to streamline the process of obtaining business licenses.

She also wants an oversight committee developed to handle redevelopment issues.

Deese said all cities are required to develop this committee through Assembly Bill X126 on behalf of the successor agency, which a seven-member board will oversee.

She also said it’s important that the city remain fiscally sustainable.

“We need to continue doing what we need to do but with fewer staff,” she said. “This means bringing solutions to the City Council that would help reduce costs and become more revenue efficient.”

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