Alex Terrazas, who was released in March as city manager of Los Banos in Merced County, was appointed interim city manager of Ceres on Monday.
Terrazas settled into his office yesterday, the morning after Tom Westbrook ended his 20-year career with the city with a send-off at the Ceres City Council meeting. Westbrook is returning to his native Red Bluff to become its Community Development Director.
Terrazas will serve as the interim city manager until a more permanent selection is made. Westbrook said a recruiting firm, often called a “head hunter,” will likely take three to four months to produce a selected candidate.
The appointment of Terrazas almost didn’t happen. Councilwoman Linda Ryno announced that she was prepared to vote no, saying she another candidate was “more suited for our organization.” But since Vice Mayor Couper Condit was missing at the meeting, her no vote would have resulted in a 2-1 vote and a procedural denial since three votes are needed. Ryno indicated that she only went along because the city would be without a manager the next day.
Terrazas was city manager in the Merced County city under a five-year contract that was set to expire in June. However, four members of the City Council there wanted him gone and he was terminated months earlier than his contract ended.
The details of that termination were not made public but his replacement, Police Chief Gary Brizzee who was named Acting City Manager of Los Banos, said “both parties decided now to separate employment.”
Terrazas was hired by Los Banos in June 2016 under five-year contract with a base annual salary of $170,000. The only member of the council there who did not support the termination was Mayor Tom Faria. The Courier reached out to Faria for a comment but he did not return the call.
Westbrook said it’s not uncommon to see city managers come and go based on the whims of elected officials.
“Running into a city manager that was never terminated from employment would probably be a rarity,” said Westbrook.
Terrazas’ government experience includes a stint as a legislative intern with Rep. Vic Fazio, analyst for the Mountain View city manager’s office, California League of Cities, and assistant city manager of Truckee.
He is a 1980s graduate of California State University, Sacramento, where he studied government and government journalism. He also received a master’s degree in government.