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Council turns to former Gustine city manager
• Dunford was in Gustine five years
Doug Dunford
Doug Dunford has been named Ceres' interim city manager in the wake of the departure of Alex Terrazas

The Ceres City Council has tapped a retired city manager to take the helm of city government in the wake of Alex Terrazas’ departure.

Doug Dunford will serve as the interim city manager while the City Council conducts an executive search to fill the position long-term, noted City Attorney Nubia Goldstein.

Terrazas, the former city manager of Ceres, left the city last month under undisclosed circumstances. He had filled in since August 2021 when Tom Westbrook left the city. Ceres Mayor Javier Lopez has not explained the circumstances of the departure, citing it as a confidential personnel matter.

“I feel very honored to be selected,” Dunford told the council on Monday evening. He said he looks forward to working with the council on its goals and to “move Ceres forward.”

Dunford served as city manager of Gustine from May 2017 to April 2022 before taking a position as city manager of the beleaguered California City in the Mojave Desert. Four months into the job Dunford resigned. The small city had been dealing with high turnover and unstable leadership which caused the Kern County Grand Jury to issue a cited in scathing June 2022 report which declared that city management there was “in crisis mode.”

He told the Courier that the city was on the verge of losing its insurance carriers “and the council hired me to go in to change and what needed to be changed was the council.” Because the council was a “a handful to work with,” the job was affecting his health and he resigned.

Dunford will be paid an hourly rate of $88.94 per hour, which is the equivalent of an $185,000 annual salary. And he will receive a $300 car allowance.

Dunford’s professional career began in September 1978 when he served 11 years as a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Sheriff. He then served as a Turlock Police officer from October 1989 to June 1993, resigning to become a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad police captain with the San Bernardino office. He remained in that position until February 2002, to spend seven years as the police chief of Escalon and a year as the police chief of Gustine. Dunford was hired to serve as Gustine’s city manager in May 2017. He stepped down in April 2022 to take on the California City role.