City Manager Gary Hampton will retire Aug. 31 after 17 months on the job. The City Council will take up how to replace him at a closed-door meeting April 18.
The timing allows Hampton to lead the city through its next two-year budget planning as well as pending labor negotiations with employee unions.
A statement released by the city says Hampton was hired to be short-term manager, meant to be “a change agent leading the city toward different priorities” set by a new council and first-term mayor. Those priorities, it says, were fiscal discipline, economic development, public safety and effective leadership.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Hampton said he plans to enjoy a more relaxed pace and putting his family first after retirement. Till then, however, he said he has nine months of work to squeeze into the remaining five.
“I'm not shifting into neutral,” Hampton said, adding he keeps a 60-plus hour a week schedule now. “I don't see that tapering off.”
Hampton brought a wealth of experience to the job, including working 2006-2011 as Turlock police chief and interim city manager. Between his two stints in Turlock, he was Tracy police chief and city administrator. He holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and business management, and will leave with nearly 35 years of public service to his credit.
“In just a short time, he got the city where we needed to be. His integrity, his dedication, and his leadership of our organization is unparalleled by any before him. I appreciate his candor, his honesty, and his wisdom. The City of Turlock is a better place with him as City Manager,” said Mayor Gary Soiseth.
In February, Hampton took a four-week absence for an unspecified medical procedure. City Attorney Phaedra Norton stepped in to fill the seat while he was gone.
Hampton has been in the post since April 1, 2016. Former City Manager Roy Wasden left in late 2015 after nearly seven years in the seat. In the interim, Municipal Services Director Michael Cooke led the city in an acting capacity. Cooke did not apply for the job.
Turlock also replaced its police chief in the last year. Rob Jackson, in place since Hampton left in 2009, left in an abruptly announced departure in August. He took the post of Seaside police chief in November.
The council named Police Chief Nino Amirfar to the post on a permanent basis in January. Amirfar had served as acting chief since Jackson left. In his acceptance of the job, Amirfar spoke of a focus on community connections and analyzing data to defuse trouble spots.
Asked about top management turnover in the last year, Hampton said the change in policing was something the city council backed him up on, and the shift to more involved elected leaders was a trend he saw happening in many cities.
“This city council is very engaged and hands on,” Hampton said. “I don't think that's a bad thing.”
His focus, he said, has been to shift city government from reacting to events to being proactive, looking at core issues and engaging directly with residents to find solutions.
It helped having a city council that was more actively involved, he said. “I knew that (going in). They're not difficult for me to work for.”