The League of California Cities (LOCC) Desert-Mountain division presented Palmdale City Manager James Purtee with the Larry Chimbole Public Service Award at its annual awards dinner, held on Thursday, Nov. 21 in Apple Valley.
The award is designed to recognize elected officials and/or city managers serving in the Desert/Mountain Division of the League of California Cites. The recipient(s) must share Larry Chimbole’s dedication to public service through outstanding service to municipal government, leadership and activism with the LOCC, and high personal character.
On hand for the presentation were Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer, who nominated Purtee, Councilmembers Laura Bettencourt, Juan Carrillo, and Richard Loa, and Assistant City Manager J.J. Murphy.
“In his more than three decades of public service, Jim Purtee has been the epitome of a true public servant,” Hofbauer said. “He is most deserving of this award, and his legacy at both Simi Valley and Palmdale are a testament to this.”
Prior to becoming Palmdale’s City Manager on October 5, 2015, he worked for several years in the private sector, and began his diverse public service career with the City of Simi Valley in 1988. Purtee worked in several departments and was involved in community services, affordable housing, planning, economic development and city administration. He was named Simi Valley’s Assistant City Manager in July 2012, where he was responsible for intergovernmental relations and served as the City’s public information officer.
Purtee enjoyed a successful tenure as Palmdale’s City Manager. Under his leadership, Palmdale’s part I crime rate decreased to 192 crimes per 10,000 population in 2019. This is the lowest crime rate in Palmdale in nearly a quarter of a century – a drastic drop from 468 in 1996.
The City has also maintained a very strong general fund reserve and credit ratings of Aa3 from Moody's Investor Services, and AA- from Standard and Poor's Rating Services through his fiscal stewardship and various Council-adopted policies and practices. S&P Ratings Services, one of the world’s leading providers of independent credit risk research and benchmarks, has reflected their positive view of Palmdale’s strong financial management by noting its “strong management, strong budgetary performance, very strong budgetary flexibility, very strong liquidity, and strong institutional framework score.
Purtee was also honored by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the premier local government leadership and management organization, at its annual conference in Baltimore earlier this year for his significant contributions and achievements in the advancement of local government administration for 30 years.
Purtee has been very active with the League of California Cities, serving as the Desert Mountain Division’s representative to the League’s Administrative Services Policy Committee and Revenue and Taxation Policy Committee. He has also headed the Desert Mountain Division Area City Manager’s Group for approximately two years. While in Simi Valley, he was also actively involved with the League’s Channel Counties Division.
An avid supporter of military veterans, Purtee has volunteered countless hours with local veterans Organizations. He is also an advocate for supporting mental health programs, especially with our local youth population, and has also served on the Board of Directors for Palmdale Regional Medical Center.
Holding both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, Northridge. Purtee is also a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education for senior executives in state and local government program.