The first thing you notice about Ikani Taumoepeau is that he is very tall. The next thing you see as your eyes move upward is his 1000-watt smile. As you struggle a bit to say his name (tau-mo-eh-pe-ow), his eyes silently laugh a little and he says, “Call me I.T.”
Taumoepeau is Clayton’s new city manager. He replaces Gary Napper, who retired in July after 18 years.
Taumoepeau comes to Clayton well prepared from his former position as assistant city manager of Santa Paula, a southern California city remarkably different from Clayton demographically, culturally and economically.
Clayton’s population (11,000+) and average household income ($146,000) are nearly triple that of Santa Paula, where the population is 30,200 and average household income is $50,000.
Although the differences are striking, Taumoepeau says the people and challenges are not.
“In Santa Paula, if someone feels passionately about something, they let you know.” No different from any other city.
He has a high regard for transparency and engagement.
“Any communication is good,” he said. “Whether it’s good or bad.”
Taumoepeau is looking forward to meeting the challenges that come with his new job. Right now, his highest priority is filling two key staff positions.
The city has been without a permanent finance manager since Kevin Mizuno resigned last summer. Clayton resident and BART director Debra Allen has been helping out in between board meetings and running her own business, but her available time is coming to an end.
An outside consulting firm has been covering the community development spot since the interim director’s contract ended in December.
The city is entering its third round of recruiting with a new search firm. Low pay and heavy responsibility with limited staff help make the job a tough one to fill.
Undaunted, he said, “I find joy in wearing many hats.”
Taumoepeau, 38, was born in San Francisco to parents that immigrated in the early 1960s from the Polynesian island of Tonga.
Taumoepeau means “fight against the waves,” he explained. “The name was given to our family by the Queen of Tonga a long time ago; another story for another time.”
He was excited to return to the Bay Area especially to be closer to his mother who, sadly, died suddenly immediately after he and his family arrived in Clayton.
His wife, Dagmar is from the village of Copenhagen in Upstate New York, population 747. They have three daughters, ages 6, 3 and 1, all of whom he describes as “lively.” They currently live in Clayton Valley Highlands but plan to move to Clayton soon.
Taumoepeau holds a master’s in public administration from Brigham Young University in Utah where he played rugby. But that was then. Now he says his “true passion” is pickleball.
“I am excited about the opportunity to work in one of the best communities in the entire state and build upon the past successes,” he said.
“Thank you for adopting me into the Clayton family. I am looking forward to earning your trust.”