Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden announced Wednesday that after more than six years of running the City of Turlock and more than 40 years of public service, he plans to retire by the end of the year.
“This is truly one of those bitter sweet moments in my life. In 1976 I went to work in public service as a police officer and the intervening period of almost 40 years have been filled with wonderful experiences and opportunities; it amazes me how quickly that time has passed. Words simply are not adequate to express how much I have loved serving and I could not have imagined a better conclusion to my public service career than spending the last 6 1/2 years in Turlock with all of you,” wrote Wasden in an email to City staff.
Wasden will leave for a holiday break on Dec. 7 and move into retirement after his vacation.
Thrust into office in the midst of Turlock's budget cycle in 2009, during one of the worst financial years on record for the city, Wasden stepped into what many termed one of the most unenviable jobs available at that time. Facing massive layoffs and a divided council, city morale was low, but Wasden said he saw great strength among the remaining employees.
Over six years later, Wasden said that he is pleased with how the City as an organization has used its resources to change the way it does business to better serve the community.
"How we serve the community, that's our measurement of success, from issuing building permits to municipal services and the police and fire departments," said Wasden. "I'm so pleased with how the organization has taken that to heart.”
Wasden believes the new service-oriented attitude instituted at City Hall is not only responsible for better relationships with Turlock citizens, but also in bringing new businesses to town.
"We've gotten away from being bureaucrats to helping businesses navigate state regulations, which are pretty tough in California," he said.
When first hired, Wasden said his priorities for the City were economic growth and developing a better relationship with California State University, Stanislaus.
Over the past few years, Wasden has seen further development of the Turlock Regional Industrial Park (formerly known as the Westside Industrial Specific Plan), with the new Blue Diamond and Hilmar Cheese facilities, along with a revitalization of the downtown area.
He also reached out to the town's educational institutions and began regular meetings with both Stanislaus State and the Turlock Unified School District, where issues of collaboration like water conservation are discussed.
"I believe that relationship has never been stronger," said Wasden of the City and University.
Wasden's leadership of the City from some of its darkest economic days to a time when new developments and relationships are being built has been appreciated by current and former council members.
“Roy is a man of great ethics and integrity. He brought a new kind of capable leadership to City Hall in leading the organization through some difficult economic times. He has served Turlock admirably and from my 22 years of serving the Turlock community, is possibly the best City Manager our region has ever seen,” said former Turlock Mayor John Lazar.
"Roy's four decades of dedicated public service are inspiring. In my short time working with him, Roy has proven to be a determined and focused leader," said Mayor Gary Soiseth. "Over the past year, we have reinstated crucial police programs and services, completed a solid waste agreement with Stanislaus County, secured a long-term drinking water supply from the Turlock Irrigation District, took great strides in leveraging our recycled water through the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Project, and placed Turlock on a solid path toward a balanced budget. I wish Roy and his wife the best as they reunite with their family in Utah."
The City plans to appoint an interim City Manager from the ranks of the current department heads and it is anticipated there will be a competitive process that will be open to internal and external candidates. A timeline for solicitation, interviews and final selection will be presented at the next City Council meeting to be held on Oct. 27.