Mesa city manager finalist David Garcia said Thursday he is withdrawing from consideration and will remain as Yuma County administrator.
The announcement comes days after Garcia went on a bus tour of Mesa, interviewed with the City Council and was named one of the three finalists.
"I think Mesa is a great community. It’s got a tremendous amount of potential. But I just don’t think it’s a good match for me right now," Garcia said.
Garcia has been the Yuma County administrator since 2003. He was the Corpus Christi, Texas, city manager from 1998 to 2003, and Phoenix deputy city manager from 1990 to 1998.
Garcia said he was "generally aware" of Mesa’s financial problems when applying by the September deadline. The council agreed earlier this month to hold a city property tax and sales tax election in May to help overcome an estimated $36 million shortfall.
"Clearly during the process you learn a lot more when you get into details," Garcia said.
Garcia’s decision leaves the council with two options — San Antonio assistant city manager Christopher Brady and Aurora, Colo., City Manager Ronald Miller. Both are scheduled to attend a community meeting Nov. 7 and be interviewed a second time by the council Nov. 8. Brady or Miller will replace City Manager Mike Hutchinson, who is retiring at the end of the year.
Council members said they were disappointed in Garcia’s decision.
Mayor Keno Hawker said he called Garcia on Thursday to try and convince him to remain a finalist.
"He said it was better for him and his career where he was at," Hawker said.
Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens president Phil Austin said he was disappointed.
"This goes back to our concern that the recruitment was not as thorough as it could have been and there may have been other viable, diverse candidates brought into the process," Austin said.
A national search firm received 46 applications for the position. Five names were made public, and Garcia was the lone Hispanic.