Atwater Mayor Wants a Deeper Look Into New Interim City Manager’s Past

The City of Atwater welcomed a new interim city manager yesterday. Art de Werk formally stepped into the role Jan. 3, 23 days after the 3-2 vote to appoint him. But he’s already in the hot seat.

The mayor of Atwater said the city should go forward with an outside background check of the city’s next interim city manager, an effort to bring greater transparency to the process…

Mayor Jim Price would not specify his concerns about de Werk other than to say it’s “his past history.”

“I think a thorough and complete in-depth background check in light of some of the concerns from past work history would be appropriate in this case,” Price told the Sun-Star. “We don’t get a do-over.”

A standard background check is already part of the process that was carried out by recruiting firm, Bob Murray & Assoc. What Mayor Price is talking about is something more in-depth and would include an investigation into the circumstances surrounding de Werk’s departure from his last job.

De Werk served as Police Chief of Ceres from 1999 to 2014 and as city manager for the final four years of his tenure. The stated reason for his relief from duties was a medical issue, but many doubted that explanation at the time.

Once he was let go, he was barred from making disparaging remarks about the city.

De Werk, in an interview this month with the Sun-Star, said he was “angry at the time” of his departure from Ceres three years ago, but said, in hindsight, the Ceres City Council “did what was best for me and the city.” De Werk had recently returned after undergoing surgery to remove a benign mass in his brain when he was relieved of his position. 


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