The city of Hughson has two new staff members to help manage its operations.
Rachel Wyse is over a month into her new role as Community Development Director, after she was recruited by City Manager Merry Mayhew. She began March 1, replacing Lea Simvoulakis who was on the job for two years but twice on maternity leave.
Also beginning March 1 is Anna Nicholas as its Finance and Administrative Services Director. She will lead and oversee key functional areas of the city including administration, finance, budget, city clerk, human resources, information technology, and risk management.
Nicholas previously worked as the Accounting Manager with the city of Riverbank since 2017 and has strong finance and supervision experience. Previously, Ms. Nicholas worked 10 years for the city of Turlock, the last two plus years as an accountant.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Science from Brandman University with certifications in Internal Controls for Government, Public Procurement, and Accounting.
Nicholas was raised in Hughson and where she raised son Dominic Nicholas, 23.
Wyse oversees the Public Works Department and its superintendent and crew, utilities which runs the wastewater treatment plant and water system. She also is in charge of planning, building, code enforcement, and parks and recreation.
Wyse formerly was a planner with the Stanislaus County Planning Department since 2006 and has strong planning and building experience providing oversight to a team of planners. She decided to leave the county because of the persistence of Mayhew who wanted her to seek the job. The two knew each other when they both worked for the county.
“My city manager would not take no for an answer and I tried three times,” said Wyse. “She kept saying, ‘Just apply, interview. Let’s just see.’”
Mayhew said Rachel “exhibits the planning expertise and professional leadership skills that Hughson needed.
“She is well respected in the field and I look forward to her bringing fresh and exciting approaches to advancing the City Council’s initiatives in the areas of planning and economic development.”
“I love it,” said Wyse of Hughson. “I love the people. I love the way it is. I grew up in small towns. I moved to Modesto when I was 18. I am not a fan of Modesto but my family all moved here. Hughson is the next best thing.”
One of the tasks she will be overseeing is the update of the Hughson General Plan, last crafted in 2005. The city is in the process of hiring a consultant to conduct the work.
The city of Hughson has also been asked by Ceres city officials to talk about establishing a green belt between their two cities.
“As we do our General Plan update we’ll be working with Ceres on that,” said Wyse.
Property owners in the rural area will be consulted to see how they feel about a permanent green belt.
“It sets that standard that we don’t want to grow there, we don’t want to take out that green belt. There used to be one between Riverbank and Modesto as well; I’m not sure that exists anymore, or that it hasn’t been encroached upon. It’s basically just we value our ag, we value our green space. Our intention is to never grow city boundaries to encompass this green belt – and that’s it.”
Prior to her planning career, Wyse worked as a counselor for Sierra Vista Children’s Center. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from California State University, Stanislaus. She and her husband of 20 years, Zachary Wyse, have two daughters, aged 14 and 17.
Both Wyse and Nicholas will work closely with the mayor, City Council, city manager, city attorney and contracted city engineers as needed on a variety of city projects and initiatives.
Mayhew herself is new to Hughson as well, hired on June 1, 2020 to replace Hughson City Manager Raul L. Mendez. Mayhew was the top among 20 candidates in the recruitment process.
The Hughson City Council meets the second and fourth Mondays of the month while the Hughson Planning Commission meets the thirds Tuesday of each month. Meetings are held at City Hall, 7018 Pine Street, Hughson.