The Ojai City Council has selected Joseph Fletcher of Tustin to serve as city attorney after a six‐month search to replace Monte Widders, who retired in May after nearly 30 years in the post.
The decision is pending final approval by the Ojai City Council on January 10, when it will consider to approve a contract with Fletcher serving as city attorney and Scott Howard as assistant city attorney.
Both men bring a long list of varied legal experience to the table. Fletcher, a lifelong city attorney, has been practicing law for more than 30 years. He served for 14 years as city attorney for Santa Ana before his retirement in 2010. A southern California native, Fletcher grew up in the Pasadena area. He received his law degree from Pacific/McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. Fletcher began his career in Modesto in 1983 as a deputy city attorney, and followed it with stints in Anaheim and Burbank. Now in private practice, Fletcher currently serves as the interim city attorney for Menifee in Riverside County.
Howard, a resident of Ventura, spent more than 34 years with the Glendale City Attorney’s office, acting as Glendale’s city attorney for 21 of those years. He retired in 2011 and is now in private practice.
Howard grew up in Culver City and earned his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law. Howard and Fletcher have a long history of working together.
Fletcher was selected after the Ojai City Council received 14 proposals and interviewed a half‐dozen firms and individuals for the position during two public meetings held this fall. The Council allowed residents to directly submit questions to be asked of the finalists. City officials said they were pleased with the high number of quality responses received during the search.
Mayor Betsy Clapp stated, “Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Howard both have a broad base of experience in municipal law and a feel for the type of issues facing our community. Thi,s along with genuine enthusiasm, and a desire to do what is best for Ojai, led us to our decision to ask Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Howard to join our team at City Hall.”
If appointed by the Council, Fletcher will begin his duties February 1. “I am honored for the opportunity to become part of the City organization and look forward to serving the Ojai community,” said Fletcher.
On May 24, the City Council announced that it had appointed Steven Lee, another member of the Widders’ firm, to serve as acting city attorney after Widders cited medical reasons for his retirement from the position. Widders had served the City since February, 1981.
Widders’ firm will continue providing services to the City through Feb. 1 in order to provide for a smooth transition from one city attorney to the next.