Tom Westbrook made the surprise announcement at Monday’s Ceres City Council meeting that he is resigning as city manager to take a position with the city of Red Bluff where he was raised and has family.
His last day in Ceres will be Aug. 23. Westbrook will be moving his wife and son and daughter to Red Bluff where he will be Community Development Director. Red Bluff’s population of 15,011 pales in comparison to Ceres’ residential count of 49,038, according to the 2020 Census. Westbrook, however, looks forward to the slower pace of a smaller city so he can spend more time at home with his family.
“I was born there, raised there, graduated high school there,” said Westbrook. “My mother lives there and so she’s going to see her grandkids as much as she wants. I left that community when I went to college 28 years ago and haven’t lived there since and have a lot of friends and family members up there who don’t know I’m coming back yet.”
Westbrook told the council on Friday and held a closed session item on Monday to see how they want to fill the impending vacancy.
“I’ve spent 20 years here and have a lot of great friends and made a lot of strong connections with the community, business owners, property owners over that time frame so it’s going to be sad to leave that and start building new connections again.”
Westbrook only became city manager in April 2020 upon the resignation of Toby Wells who left to become the city manager of Turlock. Tom was hired Jan. 29, 2001 as Ceres’ planning director, a position that was changed to Community Development director, and was instrumental in the development of a number of projects, including the construction of the Walmart Supercenter within the Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center. Westbrook has been working on processing the project for 14 and a half years, which is as old as his daughter. The project was delayed for many years because of legal challenges but is now under construction. Westbrook said he may have to take the day off and return to Ceres to attend the grand opening later this year.
“It’s the longest project that I’ve work on for sure,” said Westbrook.
Of his work in Ceres, Westbrook said he will look back as having contributed to the impending commercial developments in the Service / Mitchell roads area. The Ceres Gateway project is expected to move forward soon in the triangle-shaped piece south of the Supercenter project. He also takes pride in the “big lift” on the General Plan update and Municipal Code update. Westbrook also saw the West Landing and Mitchell Ranch annexations “which will position the city for future residential and commercial and some industrial opportunities.”
“Ceres is in a great position with the eventual Service and Mitchell interchange. I just think we’re on the cusp of being on the top and really attracting some quality retail development to the city that can provide the goods and services our residents desire.”
Mayor Javier Lopez issued a statement calling Westbrook a “good man with vision and heart.”
“Tom Westbrook has served the Ceres community for two decades,” said Lopez. “Government and public relationships have been key to his success as city manager. My time spent with Mr. Westbrook will forever make an impact in my career. He is now moving onto the next chapter of his life and career and should continue to look forward, for greater things are upon him. I am privileged to have had him work for our city.”
Councilwoman Linda Ryno, who has known Westbrook for the entire duration of his time with the city, said she has “always appreciated his commitment and work ethic to our city. He will be missed, but I understand why he wants to return to his hometown and his extended family in Red Bluff.”
“Tom has been an integral part of the successes of our community for 20 years,” said Councilman Bret Silveira. “He is a great guy and a great leader. I wish him nothing but the best as he moves forward in his career in his hometown.”