Mayor Eric Garcetti Wednesday nominated his deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo, to replace Richard Llewellyn when he steps down from his post as city administrative officer this summer after 20 years of working for the city.
“This is an historic moment for Los Angeles, and we need a chief administrator who’s not just experienced, but battle-tested — and who has the background, focus, and skills to help re-imagine a more prosperous, resilient, and just city for everyone,” Garcetti said.
“Matt Szabo knows city government from top to bottom, and he understands how to steer us through our most challenging and complicated economic circumstances. There is simply no one better suited for this job right now than Matt,” the mayor added.
Szabo serves as deputy chief of staff to Garcetti and previously served in the position for former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He also served as deputy mayor for budget and innovation, and in that role he was Garcetti’s top budget advisor and oversaw sustainability initiatives.
If confirmed by the City Council, Szabo’s new role as the city’s budget officer would come as the city recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and is anticipating spending nearly $1 billion during the next fiscal year to combat the homelessness crisis.
Szabo would report to the mayor and City Council and be responsible for overseeing the city homelessness coordinator, negotiating labor agreements, working to use tax dollars efficiently and solving budget problems as they arise throughout the fiscal year.
According to Garcetti’s office, Szabo is well positioned for the role due in part to his experience helping the city navigate the 2008 recession and his leadership as the city recovered from its budget crisis. He also helped mediate the Los Angeles Unified teachers strike in 2018.
In the last year, Szabo helped the city through the COVID-19 pandemic and budget crisis by restructuring labor agreements with civilian employees and the police and fire departments. He also played an important role in negotiating nearly 7,000 shelter beds for Angelenos during the pandemic, Garcetti’s office said.
“It has been a privilege to serve Mayor Garcetti at a time when Los Angeles has made historic progress and faced down enormous challenges,” Szabo said. “I’m honored to have this new opportunity to help the mayor and council lead our great city out of the pandemic and into a more just, equitable, and financially secure future.”
Garcetti noted in his announcement the example set by Llewellyn, who has been the city administrative officer for the last three years. During his time as CAO, he oversaw the production of thousands of new homeless housing units and led the city through a budget crisis to protect jobs and services during the pandemic, Garcetti said.
“Rich is a model public servant and a dear friend. My term as mayor has been better off, and our entire city is better off, because of the man and the leader he is,” he said. “Rich’s time working for the city may be drawing to a close, but I know that his legacy will live on, and I hope every city employee aspires to do this work with his same degree of compassion and commitment. I wish Rich the best in the next chapter of his life.”
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