An associate city engineer will lead Costa Mesa's municipal employee union.

Patrick Bauer was recently named president of the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. He has served on its board of directors for seven of the eight years he has worked for the city.

Bauer began his city career in 2005 after working in the private sector, according to a post on CostaMesaWorks.com, a CMCEA website.

Bauer replaces Helen Nenadal, a 32-year city employee who retired in December. Nenadal, a facilities maintenance technician, served as CMCEA president for four years.

The CMCEA represents about 200 city workers.

Bauer chose public service, according to the website, because it "provided stability for his family and an opportunity to connect with the community in a way he felt was more meaningful than when he worked for corporations."

"I am honored that I have been chosen to represent my fellow employees in a leadership role at the city of Costa Mesa," Bauer wrote in a recent email to employees. "I promise to continue to listen to your concerns and do what is in the best interest of your conditions of employment while working with the city of Costa Mesa.

"I do not take the responsibility lightly and feel it is an important position, ensuring the proper checks and balances remain in place, not only for my fellow employees but for the community and citizens of Costa Mesa."

Bauer is credited on the website with leading the association through "one of the darkest eras in the city's history" after a city maintenance worker, Huy Pham, committed suicide by jumping off the roof of City Hall in March 2011.

Pham, 29, of Fountain Valley, was one of more than 200 employees set to receive a layoff notice in a sweeping citywide restructuring proposal by a City Council majority claiming a fiscal crisis and looming pension costs.

In December 2012, the council rescinded the remaining pink slips after the CMCEA filed a lawsuit.