Turlock’s National Recruitment for City Manager Ends, No Candidate Chosen

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The Turlock City Council has been planning on hiring a new city manager since April, about six months ago, but the national recruitment was ended by Council and with no candidate being chosen.

Mayor Gary Soiseth had presented a new hiring process in May that he stated would be done quickly and allow significant overlap with now former City Manager Gary Hampton who was set to retire in August.

Despite the new process that included a recruitment firm, a Chair recommended by Mayor Soiseth – former Mayor Curt Andre – and panels of appointed community members and City Executive Staff, the nationwide search ended in leaving the City of Turlock without a city manager.

The hiring process ended after an Oct. 10 City Council closed session meeting with the reportable action stated publicly at about 11 p.m. that the current City Manager recruitment would end and that Council would start over.

Previous to the closed session meeting decision, on Sept. 26, Councilwoman Amy Bublak showed concern for not seeing the hiring process on the City Council Meeting agenda where she stated that her and at least one other Council Member was expecting to address the hiring process. Councilwoman Bublak then asked if it could be agendized to discuss several City management level positions she was concerned about possibly leaving the City government vulnerable. Mayor Soiseth argued that it was not allowed to discuss the positions at that time. Councilwoman Bublak requested advice from the legal counsel, who was sitting in for City Attorney Phaedra Norton who had not been at the Council Meetings for unspecified leave, if the request was allowed. However, Mayor Soiseth didn’t let the legal counsel answer and shut down the request he was arguing against.

That meeting, without any discussion to make progress, evidently stalled what would be the ultimate end where no candidate would be hired and that would leave the City of Turlock without a City Manager.

No statements have been made by anyone involved in the process as to what happened with the new hiring process created by Mayor Soiseth and no information has been released regarding the candidates in the nationwide search.

The Turlock City Council is expected to discuss the issue of another attempt at hiring a city manager in closed session at the Nov. 14 City Council meeting.

Mayor Soiseth Created a New Hiring Process, Incorporating Former Mayor Curt Andre

On April 11, 2017, back when former City Manager Gary Hampton announced he would be retiring after only just a year since he was hired to replace former City Manager Roy Wasden in April 2015, the Turlock City Council started working on finding a replacement.

On April 18, 2017, the City Council met in closed session to discuss the upcoming retirement of then City Manager Hampton and to outline the recruitment and selection process of the new City Manager.

At the May 5 Turlock City Council meeting, it was announced that Mayor Gary Soiseth had laid out a new process to hire the next Turlock City Manager.

It was decided to hire the recruitment firm, Robert Neher & Associates, LLC, who also conducted the previous Turlock City Manager national recruitment that led to the hiring of Gary Hampton in 2015. Gary Hampton was the former Turlock Police Chief, and later left to go work for the City of Tracy as Police Chief, before he was chosen to be the Turlock City Manager.

The recruitment firm also reduced the cost by 30% due to their previous recruitment process for the City of Turlock in 2015. That savings would equal $5,000.

“Additionally, their familiarity with the City will allow them to quickly post the opening and hire a new City Manager as soon as possible, allowing significant overlap with the current City Manager,” stated the City of Turlock staff report from Mayor Soiseth.

The new process in the staff report from Mayor Gary Soiseth included, in addition to the recruitment firm, four panels that would be formed to assist with the interview and selection process. Two of the panels would consist of Executive Staff and City of Turlock Directors. The other two panels were to be a Council Appointed Panel and a Business Panel.

Mayor Soiseth also recommended that a member of the community be appointed as the Chair to help facilitate the recruitment and selection process, former Turlock Mayor Curt Andre.

The Chair would be responsible for coordinating with the City Council, the recruitment firm, and the panel members. The Chair would assist in screening and assembling candidates in the nationwide search for a new Turlock City Manager.

The four panels would interview candidates for the City Manager position. Based upon the interviews and ranking, the Chair and the Council Appointed Panel will make final recommendations to the City Council regarding the number of candidates that should be interviewed by the entire City Council and provide corresponding information regarding the ranking of those candidates.

Under former Turlock Mayor Curt Andre as the Chair recommended by Mayor Soiseth, the panels were proposed and approved including the people listed.

Council Appointed Panel:
Chris Kiriakou, recommended by Council Member DeHart
Dana Trevethan, recommended by Council Member Bublak
Ron Eivaz, recommended by Council Member Jacob
Milt Trieweiler, recommended by Council Member Gil Esquer

Business Panel:
Fred Brenda, recommended by Mayor Soiseth
Sam David, recommended by Council Member DeHart
Gena Larson, recommended by Council Member Bublak
Tony Zaia, recommended by Council Member Jacob
Robert Puffer, recommended by Council Member Esquer

Once final recommendations are made, the City Council will conduct their interviews of the most qualified candidate(s).

The Turlock City Council is expected to discuss the issue of another attempt at hiring a city manager in closed session at the Nov. 14 City Council meeting.

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