Greg Preece, former Fairfield assistant city manager, said he took a job in California because of the weather.

Fairfield loses one of its top leaders to the California sun

Literally.

Nicer — and warmer — weather is why Preece, who’s been with the city since August 2015, is leaving Ohio to be the human resource manager for the city of Oakland.

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“That’s basically it,” said Preece, 37. “I won’t miss the snow, the cold days in the middle of April.”

Leaving for California has been a goal of Preece’s for a while, and “it came open, and it’s one of those jobs you put in for and you don’t think you’ll get. It worked out.”

Preece was responsible for many of the human resources and technology matters with the city. In Oakland he won’t be dealing with union negotiations, but will be around recruiting, benefits and compensation, he said.

Preece studied human resources at Northern Kentucky University, where he earned both his undergrad and master’s degrees. He grew up in the Eastgate area and graduated from Glen Este High School, which last year merged with Amelia to be the West Clermont Local School District.

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He started his career as a firefighter, first in Union Twp. in Clermont County and then in Blue Ash in Hamilton County. He ascended through the Blue Ash ranks to ultimately become the assistant fire chief with that department before Blue Ash hired him as its human resources director in January 2014.

Preece took the assistant city manager job at the beginning of a new transition in Fairfield leadership. City Manager Mark Wendling was just promoted to city manager after the retirement of former city manager Art Pizzano. Preece was selected out of 80 candidates and was Wendling’s senior management hire.

“Greg came in at a really pivotal time,” said Wendling. “We really needed to do a little bit of restructuring.”

Among other things, Preece oversaw the city’s website redesign, launched the city’s social media platforms and creation a communications division. He also helped the transition of moving the city’s information technology department under the management of the city manager’s office.

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Wendling also said Preece has been “very successful” with his handling of the bargaining units within the city.

“He’s going to be hard to replace, but everyone’s replaceable,” he said.

The job for a new assistant city manager will be advertised at the end of this week, and while it will be advertised nationally, Wendling said the focus would be on finding someone who is familiar with the state and region.

The city will accept applications for about five weeks before taking a week or two to evaluate the resumes.

“Generally, it’s about a 90-day process to fill a staff position like that,” he said.

Preece said he would miss the people and connections he’s made in both Fairfield and Blue Ash, but he hopes to retire out West.

“That will be my ultimate goal is to retire, hopefully in Oakland, or somewhere else and stay out there, stay warm and just come back here to visit,” he said.

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