The City of Turlock’s current Human Resource Manager Sarah Eddy was appointed as Acting City Manager on Friday, becoming the fifth person to assume the role in the last two years.
Eddy has worked for the City since 1988 and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanislaus State in Turlock. The City Council unanimously appointed her to the position during a Special Meeting on Friday afternoon. She will take the place of Gary Hampton, whose last day is Thursday, as the retired public employee’s time as City Manager was only temporary.
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, and any results of the investigation have not yet been announced.
Per his three-year contract, Wells was paid an annual base salary of $220,000 and continues to receive full pay and benefits while on investigative leave.
In his final City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, Hampton received a key to the city with blueprints to the Public Safety Facility on the back, as he designed the building.
“I'm just very proud and privileged to be working among some of the best leadership members of this organization,” Hampton said. “This city as a whole accomplishes more than most residents know.”
Some participants in Tuesday’s public comment period were concerned about Eddy, who oversees HR, leaving a department that has been past described as overworked. Another Turlock resident who phoned into Tuesday’s City Council meeting was confused about Wells’ investigative leave and exactly how many city managers Turlock currently has on payroll.
“It’s such an important position as a city and I’m no expert in government, but I just can’t figure it out,” the caller said.
The caller asked the Council for clarification on the entire process, including the reason for the investigation.
“It’s an ongoing personnel matter which we can’t discuss,” Mayor Amy Bublak said. “It is an important decision and we do hear you, but we’re not at liberty to speak to personnel issues.”