City Manager’s Decision To Resign Was Sudden; Patterson Declines To Respond To Criticisms
Casper City Manager John Patterson's decision to resign effective Nov. 1 after a 36-year career including nearly four years here was abrupt, he said Friday.
"The decision to retire has been sudden; it's just come this week and something that frankly we haven't thought a lot about retiring," Patterson said shortly after city hall issued the press release announcing his retirement.
Patterson, who was hired by the Casper City Council in July 2011, turns 63 later in November, he said. He plans to move to Utah where most of his children and grandchildren live, he added.
"I think that this is a perfect time to launch into another chapter in our lives, and we're excited about the prospects even though they are uncertain at this point in time," he said. "It's kind of exciting."
Last fall, Patterson was a finalist for the city manager job in North Las Vegas, but he and his wife decided to stay in Casper, he said.
Patterson deflected a question about whether the decision to retire was related to last week's allegation by his wife, Cindy, that one of a group of his critics assaulted her during a city council meeting.
After an investigation by the Natrona County Sheriff's Office, the district attorney declined to prosecute the case.
Patterson wouldn't discuss that, either.
"We are just thrilled to have served the citizens of Casper and the accomplishments we have been able to do," he said of the work he and his wife did on the boards of nonprofit organizations.
Patterson also declined to comment on allegations of critics that he wasn't always transparent on decisions.
"I just want to focus on the positive accomplishments of my term here," he said. "I've been a catalyst for good in every community that I've been a part of.... My track record speaks for myself. I think back on my history and can look at every community that I've served and have seen them leap forward in both economic prosperity and community functionality and service."
He also declined to respond to criticisms that he sometimes acted as the leader as the council rather than being the employee of the council.
"I've loved the three councils that I have served," Patterson said. "For the most part, I mean, these council members are dedicated, capable, intelligent, giving their all in public service to grow the community that they love."
Two council members had been especially critical of him.
Last June, former council member Keith Goodenough publicly called for Patterson's resignation, saying Patterson was too focused on major capital projects and not focused enough on the actual management of the city.
That demand came after a recorded phone conversation became public between Casper Police Chief Jim Wetzel and Patterson, who allegedly called Goodenough “strange” and “an anomaly in Wyoming politics” – citing Goodenough’s stance on marijuana, gay marriage and death with dignity laws. The call was made during council's investigation of Ward II councilman Craig Hedquist.
Hedquist has sued Patterson in federal court for his alleged retaliation against Hedquist for freely speaking about city management after his election in November 2012. The trial has been scheduled for Jan. 16, 2016.
Casper Mayor Charlie Powell acknowledged Patterson has drawn criticism, but that's because of the goals and projects he advocated.
"When you hire someone like that who's making changes and proposing projects, and someone like John who is sort of a bulldog about getting things done that he believes are in the best interest of the town, not everyone's going to appreciate that," Powell said.
Patterson himself said he will look back on his work in Casper with the restored North Platte River, the proposed conference center, the proposed biathlon range on Casper Mountain and the proposed downtown plaza among the projects that defined his work here.
He will keep pursuing them until his last day on Nov. 1, he said. "I intend to sprint to the finish line."