Kathy Millison, who has served as the Clovis city manager for more than 19 years, said Wednesday she is the finalist for the city manager's post in Santa Rosa.
Millison has worked in Clovis since 1983, starting as an assistant to the city manager before serving as assistant city manager.
When Millison arrived, Clovis had 32,000 residents; today the population is 97,000.
Santa Rosa, the Sonoma County seat with a population of 163,436, is a larger city with a unique heritage and a diverse community, but it also has budget issues, she said.
Millison said Santa Rosa city leaders will visit Clovis next week and make a final decision later this month. Millison, 58, said she will accept the job if it is offered.
For much of the past year, Millison said, she has been weighing other opportunities.
She said she has informed the Clovis City Council about her pending departure. Clovis requires a 60-day resignation notice for the city manager.
Council members said Millison performed admirably under difficult budget constraints.
"Her leadership is well-respected, not just in our city but across the Valley," said Council Member Lynne Ashbeck, who has served on city commissions and the council since 1987. "She has been here a long time."
Harry Armstrong is the only council member who has been with the city longer than Millison.
"I am going to miss her tremendously," he said. "She sees a new challenge and I believe she will be up to that, but I hate to lose her because she has done such an outstanding job here."
The process to replace Millison may be time-consuming, Armstrong said.
He thinks the council should wait until after the city election in March, when his term and the terms of Jose Flores and Bob Whalen expire, before making a selection.
"I think Kathy has done an amazing job for Clovis and we were fortunate to have her at the helm when the budget was really tough," Whalen said. "We will work hard to find someone who can replace her adequately."
He said city-manager candidates should be encouraged when they see that Millison stayed for nearly two decades.
Millison earns about $140,000 as Clovis city manager. She is expected to earn more than $200,000 in Santa Rosa, Clovis City Council members said.
Millison said that if she is selected, she would begin her new job in early October.