SLO City Council appoints Whitney McDonald as interim city manager

March 20, 2024

Whitney McDonald


The San Luis Obispo City Council on Tuesday appointed Assistant City Manager Whitney McDonald to serve as interim city manager starting on April 26.

Last month, SLO City Manager Derek Johnson announced plans to resign his post, after accepting the chief executive officer position in Marin County. Johnson plans to leave SLO sometime in April.

McDonald will oversee city operations, a staff of over 470 employees, and a total budget of about $240 million for an estimated six months.

Prior to joining SLO in Aug. 2023, McDonald held the city manager position in Arroyo Grande.

“I’m honored to step into this role as we keep the city moving forward during this transition,” McDonald said. “My goals will be to continue the city’s positive relationships in our community, ensure a seamless continuation of services, programs, and projects, and sustain the progress we have made on the Council’s major city goals and ambitious work programs.”

The City Council also appointed Mayor Erica Stewart and Councilwoman Michelle Shoresman to serve on an Ad Hoc Committee tasked with working with an executive recruiter during a national search for the next city manager.

“We are taking steps to fill the city manager role and, in the meantime, have confidence in Whitney to ensure the smooth continuation of core services and programs and sustained progress on the city’s major city goals,” Mayor Stewart said.


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With Stewart and Shoresman on the selection committee, one must fear for the outcome. They have no loyalty to what this town is.

Here’s to hoping that we get someone significantly better than Derek Johnson. One can hope.

Whitney is wonderful. Hope she gets hired on for the permanent position.

Sh a lawyer which should be an automatic disqualification.

I predicted on a post a month ago, “My guess is it internal: Asst City Mgr. Whitney McDonald, they brought her over from AG (City Mgr.) as a trial period with the leadership surmising that Derek was on the move… County leadership hates her, so it’s a good fit :)”

Well then, what is your prediction on her abilities to do the job over the outgoing manager.

She’s whip smart and well experienced. She’ll do as well as the Council lets her.

And therein lies the problem: this council.

I hate her too. She doesn’t even live in SLO.

$350K/year. not bad.

Apparently there are only ten people that work in government leadership roles in the area. They just keep moving around.

Old Derek was pulling down 385.000 in salary and bennies for 2022, according to But wait, he needed more. The public needs to know why California is such an expensive place to live.

Derek was a carpetbagger. He never intended to be here long term. SLO was just a line on his resume.