Turlock Hires New City Manager, Ending Tense Yearlong Search

The tense, yearlong hunt for former Turlock City Manager Gary Hampton’s replacement has finally -- finally! -- come to a close and city officials must be breathing a sigh of relief.

Bob Lawton was appointed to the top administrator position Tuesday by a 5-0 vote of the city council. The current administrator of Yates County in upstate New York will take over July 12 at an annual salary of $215,748.

Now for the million dollar question: will Lawton’s hiring end the turmoil in Turlock? Time will tell.

As City News reported, it was the search for Hampton’s replacement that first spawned his allegations of bullying and harassment by members of the city council. Hampton ended up filing a legal complaint against the city which paid $39,000 to settle the claim.

In October, the council had to scrap a recruitment effort for Hampton's replacement, prolonging the drama. Turlock has also been without a city attorney since Phaedra Norton resigned in March. The Meyers Nave law firm has been handling legal matters for the city.

Turlock’s incoming administrator has 30 years of experience working in the public sector, having held more than 20 county positions in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and California. Lawton's resume includes stints as interim assistant county administrator of Sonoma County (2016), principal management analyst for Solano County (2010 to 2012), county administrative officer for Calaveras County (2008 to 2009), and deputy county administrator for Solano County from January (2005 to 2008).