Padilla withdraws; Farmersville appoints dual city managers

Farmersville City Council during one of its meetings on June 10.(Karis Caddell)

Farmersville appoints Steve Huntley and Jay Brock as co-interim city managers after Daniel Padilla withdraws application for the role before the start date

FARMERSVILLE – After a last minute application withdrawal from Daniel Padilla, who was supposed to take on the interim city manager role for the city of Farmersville, city council has appointed Steve Huntley and Jay Brock to retake his place.

The council appointed Huntley, the city’s finance director, and Police Chief Brock as co-interim city managers at their meeting on June 10. Previous to this, Huntley and Brock were serving as co-acting city managers. This development comes after it was revealed that the newly hired interim city manager, Daniel Padilla, withdrew his application the week he was supposed to start work.

“We were lacking all these things in the (hiring) process – ethics, honesty, integrity, respect, professionalism – because they were (reconsidering bringing me on) after the council voted unanimously to hire me,” Padilla said.

City council unanimously voted to approve the hire of Padilla on May 28. Padilla was meant to officially start on June 12 and start working out of city hall on June 17. However, despite the approval of hire from council, Padilla explained the city’s hiring process allows it to continue researching the candidate until their first day of work. He was under the impression the process was complete once the council voted to hire him as city manager, but soon figured out that wasn’t accurate.

“They can conduct their due diligence until the very last day. I thought that clause was a little bit unprofessional because I had already put in my two weeks notice (at my prior job),” Padilla said.

Further behind his decision to withdraw his application, he explained one of the members of the Ad Hoc committee that is in charge of searching for candidates for the city manager position recommended against moving forward with Padilla’s contract.

Padilla said the member of the committee who recommended the council not move forward with his contract was someone who he was supposed to work closely with for work, and in the circumstance where he took on the role, he said he didn’t want to have a falling out with them.

“I was very disappointed,” Padilla said. “I was going to partner with that person since we (would) both report to the city council.”

According to Farmersville council member Greg Gomez, who is the chair of the Ad Hoc committee, the committee consists of three council members, the city attorney and both of the interim city managers. Gomez said it is unclear what direction the search for city manager will take moving forward.

“I don’t know if we’re going to still look for an interim or if we’re just going to keep going like this until we find a permanent replacement,” Gomez said. “There are other applicants that we could go forward with. I just don’t know, I haven’t met with the committee.”

Gomez explained one of the contributing factors behind council making Huntley and Brock co-interim city managers instead of co-acting city managers as they had been before is because the city has made more progress in hiring a public works director.

“For public works, I think the hiring decision was made,” Gomez said. “That’s what led us to appoint Jay and Steve as interim, because we do have our public works director going through the process right now.”

During their ongoing search for a new city manager, which started in April, Farmersville City Council unanimously voted on April 28 to terminate their contract with Jeff Dowell, the city’s longtime public works director. According to the staff report on the matter, the decision arose from “a willful breach of duty or a habitual neglect of duty.”

This initially made Padilla seem like a good fit for the city manager role given that he was previously the deputy public works director for Yuba County, according to Padilla from a previous interview with The Sun-Gazette. He said he believed his background in engineering and public works would help him in assisting Farmersville’s city projects while he served as interim city manager. Overall, he expressed his disappointment that it didn’t work out.

“I wish nothing but the best for the city of Farmersville. And mostly everybody there has been great to interact with,” Padilla said. “I could have made a difference in impact… I would have brought in some positive input and positive changes but, unfortunately, it didn’t pan out that way.”

Padilla was stepping into the role previously filled by Jennifer Gomez, who was removed from the position on April 22, 2024 after city council voted 3-2 not to renew her contract with the city in a closed session meeting. Gomez served the city of Farmersville as city manager for just shy of six years before her contract expired. Now it is unclear who will fill the role of permanent city manager.

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