It’s been six months since Gary Hampton left his position as Turlock’s City Manager, and the City is still working on finding his replacement in a recruitment process that has taken an unexpected turn.
The City announced on Nov. 20 that it is accepting bids from qualified consultants for executive recruitment services for the City Manager position. This comes following the City Council’s decision during a closed session meeting on Oct. 10 to end the current recruitment process and start over after six months of work that included three panels of community members and a panel of City department directors interviewing top candidates.
The original recruitment process started in April, when Hampton announced he would be leaving the City of Turlock in August. Hampton ended up leaving one month earlier, with his last day mid-July. The City once again contracted recruitment firm Robert Neher & Associates — the same firm used following former City Manager Roy Wasden’s retirement in December 2015 — to find qualified candidates.
Those candidates were then interviewed and ranked by members of three panels of community members and a panel of City executive staff.
The City Council appointed former mayor Curt Andre to chair the community panels — recommended by Mayor Gary Soiseth — and help facilitate the recruitment and selection process.
“There were great debates and collaboration,” said Andre about the community panels’ meetings. “It was rewarding for me. This is the first time the City Council has reached out to so many citizens to help with a decision like this.”
According to Andre, there were a total of 22 candidates, which were narrowed down to eight by the recruitment firm and then the top four were interviewed by the panels. The community panels then passed on their recommendations to the City Council. Andre said each of the panels had different top candidates.
The City has not given a reason for the recruitment process redo. According to Soiseth, the City Council will hold a special meeting in early January to review recruitment firm applications, select a recruiter and set the timeline for City Manager candidates to apply.
Turlock Fire Chief Robert Talloni has been serving as Interim City Manager since Hampton left. In his absence, the Turlock Fire Department has been led by Operations Chief Gary Carlson.
“The City is fortunate to have great staff. The organization has been enriched by the opportunity to have individuals step up and help fill vacancies as they arise. These opportunities provide leadership development, which is part of our ongoing succession planning. I am very proud of our team,” said Talloni about his new responsibilities and those of his staff.
Over the next several months, the City of Turlock will not only be seeking a new City Manager but also a Director of Development Services/City Engineer and a Director of Planning Services.
Mike Pitcock left the position as Development Services/City Engineer in November, after accepting the City Manager position for the City of Waterford. Pitcock was with the City of Turlock for 20 years and helped shape many of the city’s development projects.
Debbie Whitmore retired on Friday as the City’s Director of Planning Services.
According to Talloni, a revised job description for the Director of Development Services/City Engineer position is expected to go before the City Council on Jan. 9. After Council approval, the City will begin advertising for the position. Talloni is also working with Human Resources and the Development Services Department on a recruitment plan to replace Whitmore.
According to Talloni, the loss of the two department directors hasn’t negatively impacted City projects or private developments.
“I am so proud of our staff for taking the mantle whenever and wherever needed. Despite the various shifts in responsibility that have taken place as of late, I am confident City Hall has not missed a beat in providing top notch service to our citizens and our community,” said Vice Mayor Matthew Jacob.