PIEDMONT -- Paul Benoit was appointed the city's new administrator at Tuesday night's City Council meeting, following an extensive search.
Benoit, the city manager of Astoria, Ore., will take over the reins from Geoff Grote, who is retiring at the end of February after 25 years of service.
Piedmont Mayor John Chiang, reached at an East Coast conference on Wednesday, said, "It was a tough decision. Each of the three finalists brought different things to the party."
Chiang said there were more than 45 applicants for the position. That group was culled down to six for initial screenings, then the top three finalists were interviewed in closed session.
"That (Benoit) was an experienced city manager came into play," Chiang said. "We felt he was the best fit."
Benoit served as Astoria's city manager since December 2005. Earlier, Benoit served as that city's community development director for 17 years. In between those two stints, he served as Alameda's director of development, then as assistant city manager in Alameda from 2003 to 2005.
One motivation for Benoit moving back to California was that his son, daughter-in-law and 10-month-old grandson live in California. Benoit told The Daily Astorian that it was time for a change, but said he had "a good run" in Astoria and leaves behind a good team.
Benoit holds a bachelor's degree in marine science and environmental science from the University of Rhode Island, according to his profile. He holds a master's degree in coastal planning from the University of Washington in Seattle.
His familiarity with the Bay Area as well as his service in Astoria, a small city similar in size to Piedmont with a population of about 9,500 people, made him the prime choice to replace Grote.
Benoit will come on board at the end of February, with little overlap between him and Grote.
"It's best to just have no overlap, otherwise existing staff would not know whether to ask questions to Geoff or Paul," Chiang said, adding that Grote would be available to offer perspectives to Benoit.
Chiang said the council is in salary negotiations now with the new city administrator. The council will announce his salary and other benefits at the first City Council meeting in February.
Benoit would be subject to the tiered-down benefits that were enacted by the City Council for new employees.