Q&A with City of Fremont’s Newly Appointed City Manager Mark Danaj
Fremont’s eighth City Manager Mark Danaj is no stranger to our beautiful and diverse city. Holding over 20 years of public management executive experience, he was Fremont’s Assistant Manager from 2011 to 2014. Through his return to Fremont, he brings with him renewed enthusiasm and drive to tackle our city’s challenges head-on. Mark’s passion for improving civic engagement through tech tools and supporting Fremont’s robust business environment are apparent in the following interview.
Q: Welcome back to Fremont! What is it about this community that drew you back to assume the role of City Manager and “CEO?”
When I looked back at my time serving as Fremont’s Assistant City Manager, I warmly remembered the quality of the City’s workforce and its long tradition of providing exceptional municipal services. To again be a part of that working environment, while serving the diverse Fremont population was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I am excited to continue to foster this spirit of inclusiveness, strong communications, our strong economy, and willingness to embrace innovation in this new role.
Q: Fremont’s diverse economy must be important to you as you consider budgets and fiscal stability. How do you view the City’s role in supporting its business environment?
I believe that our primary responsibility is to serve the residents and business community of Fremont. To do that effectively requires our team to identify and support the commercial interests that make up this great city. Local government has a duty to offer the business environment consistent service and review. We must proactively engage and facilitate a strong, resilient economic base to ensure that the City’s budget and ability to provide essential municipal services are sustainable. Fremont has long made key investments into economic development to achieve financial stability.
Q: Fremont is the fourth largest city in the Bay Area—what are your regional priorities and how will you ensure Fremont has a strong voice in those conversations?
Transportation infrastructure, quality education, housing at all economic levels, and homelessness are key issues for our entire region. As an important part of Silicon Valley, Fremont has both the benefit and burden of the Valley’s success; mainly, we create jobs and innovation that are far in excess of our ability to build housing. Our City will continue to lead in these areas by being innovative in our approach and having an active voice on both public and private boards and commissions, such as the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC), Joint Venture Silicon Valley (JVSV), and more.
Q: What do you think are the most exciting opportunities in the future of City operations and civic innovation?
My passion for local governance is rooted in looking for ways to reinvent our city and enhance community access. I look forward to exploring technology solutions that provide residents with improved and authentic civic engagement opportunities that relate to the issues that are important to them and on a timeframe that is convenient for them. This goal translates into investment in interactive apps that allow residents and businesses to access City services 24/7 and greater transparency to follow community concerns from the very beginning to resolution. The challenges we confront as a community and region are increasingly complex, and residents and business leaders expect to be part of the solution. Civic engagement isn’t just a “check the box” exercise—it requires a sincere facilitation of all participants to get the best solutions for our toughest issues. We have a long list of city improvements to tackle, but I am excited to be here and working toward effective solutions.