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Interim municipal services director steps in for interim city manager
Dan Madden
Interim Municipal Services Director Dan Madden will serve as Acting City Manager when current Interim City Manager Sarah Eddy is on a medical leave of absence (Journal file photo).

The City of Turlock’s top administrative position will once again be handed to another department director as current Interim City Manager Sarah Eddy takes a medical leave of absence.

Eddy has recommended that the City Council appoint Interim Municipal Services Director Dan Madden as Acting City Manager during her medical leave of absence.

“Dan’s long history with the City and no-nonsense approach will serve the City and our residents well during my absence,” Eddy said.

Eddy will be on a medical leave of absence after a small accident, according to a released statement.

“It is not a serious injury and I had hoped to return to work without any extended leave but it did involve a broken bone that will in fact take some rehabilitation time,” Eddy explained.

Madden has already agreed to take on the position, according to the City, however the matter will be on next Tuesday’s City Council meeting agenda to comply with the formalities required by CalPERS, which operates the City of Turlock’s pension system for city retirees. Madden returned as the Interim Municipal Services Director on Aug. 25, 2021. As a retiree, or CalPERS annuitant, the pension system requires extensive checks and balances to ensure that local government pensioners are in line with a long list of reforms and requirements.

“Based upon CalPERS input, the City Council item will state a much longer possible time period for Madden to be Acting City Manager than I expect will be necessary,” Eddy said. “This is being done so we don’t inadvertently violate any CalPERS requirements.”

“Sarah is so devoted to the City of Turlock that she didn’t want to take a medical leave of absence,” said Mayor Amy Bublak. “Sarah is a gem of a person and with her positive attitude we know she will bounce back quickly but we want her to take all the time necessary to get back to 110%.”

Turlock’s City Manager position has been in flux for quite some time.

Eddy took over as Interim City Manager in May 2021, taking the place of Interim City Manager Gary Hampton.

It was Hampton’s third time serving the City of Turlock; he served as Turlock City Manager from April 2016 to April 2017, however, he began his service to the City of Turlock in 2006, when he took the position of Chief of Police. In January 2009, Hampton was asked by the then-City Council under Mayor John Lazar to serve as Interim City Manager, following the Council's midnight decision to terminate City Manager Tim Kerr.

The position of City Manager has been a revolving door in recent years, particularly since Hampton’s original departure in 2017, which saw him file a hostile work environment claim against the City. Shortly after Hampton left, former Fire Chief Robert Talloni served as a long-term Interim City Manager until Bob Lawton took over in 2018.

After holding the position for just over a year, Lawton resigned in August 2019 and was eventually replaced by the City’s Municipal Services director, Michael Cooke, later that year. Cooke served through November 2020, but in March of that year Toby Wells came from the City of Ceres and was appointed as City Manager. 

Hampton found himself back in the role, albeit temporarily, last January after Wells was placed on investigative leave for reasons not disclosed to the public. Wells’ contract with the City has since been terminated and he recently accepted a position as the Manteca City Manager.

It’s not just the City Manager position that is lacking permanent leadership.

The City of Turlock recently contracted with an executive recruitment firm for the positions of City Manager, Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Development Services Director and Municipal Services Director.