The City Council on Tuesday granted approval to begin the recruitment process for several Turlock leadership roles, beginning with City Manager.
In a unanimous vote, the Council authorized the issuance of a Request for Proposal to conduct an executive recruitment for the positions of City Manager, Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Development Services Director and Municipal Services Director — all five of which are currently filled on an interim basis.
Carl Brown oversees the Municipal Services Department as Interim Deputy Director of Municipal Services, while Nathan Bray has held the title of Interim Development Services Director for some time. Gary Carlson took over as Interim Fire Chief in June 2019 when the City fired former chief Robert Talloni, and both Miguel Pacheco and now Steve Williams have served in the role of Interim Chief of Police since Nino Amirfar’s retirement last year.
Human Resources Manager Sarah Eddy became Interim City Manager last month after the departure of Gary Hampton; she is the fifth person to assume the role in the last two years. Following the recent settlement agreement with former City Manager Toby Wells, who was fired after being placed on investigatory leave in January, the search for his permanent replacement can now commence.
The Council also granted approval for the City to spend $100,000 on the recruitment process.
“We are hopeful this amount is enough to help expedite the request to begin filling these executive level positions,” Human Resources Analyst Jessie Dhami told the Council.
While the original motion granted authorization to Mayor Amy Bublak to enter into a professional services agreement with a recruitment firm from the RFP, Councilmember Nicole Larson amended the motion to grant the authorization to the Interim City Manager and City Attorney.
Former City Council candidate and Turlock resident Robert Puffer spoke during the item to ask why a firm was needed to hire the new City Manager’s “crew.”
“...Shouldn't we just have you guys put out an RFP to get a City Manager and once he’s hired, he’s allowed to pick his own crew? He may not even need to use $100,000,” Puffer said.
Larson agreed but explained that the City Manager would be hired first and then lend insight in recruiting the rest of the City’s leadership.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be hiring all of these positions at the same time,” she said. “In my best vision of how this process is going to go, the City Manager is the first one to be identified and hired and then we will use his or her expertise and vision for the team to help influence the next leaders that will be selected.”
The City is no stranger to utilizing a recruitment firm when selecting its executives — most recently for City Manager. Former City Manager Bob Lawton was hired in 2018 after 10 months and two rounds of recruitment. The City chose to forgo a recruitment firm due to dwindling finances prior to hiring Wells, but he was also a candidate during the previous search which ended with the hiring of Lawton.
“Some of my concern is I don’t care how it happens, I just want us to get going on a City Manager recruitment and the rest can fall behind, but it’s important that we not thwart our effort to start getting a long-term leader for this organization as soon as possible, and if that can’t happen tonight, I will be greatly disappointed,” Bublak said.
Following Tuesday’s approval, the City of Turlock will send out the RFP on Wednesday. According to the City, competition for qualified candidates may cause a nationwide search to be necessary. The RFP deadline is 3 p.m. July 9.