Wilma Tucker, Fowler’s city manager, announces resignation

The one-time Fresno City Manager is exiting her post in Fowler on less-than-ideal terms, alleging harassment by members of the public.

Fowler City Manager Wilma Tucker delivered a surprise this week, announcing she will resign her post.

Tucker submitted a letter of resignation to the Fowler City Council on May 7. 


The backstory: Tucker, a former City Manager for Fresno and the first woman to hold that post, was hired in Fowler in February 2021, where she took over a city that did not have balanced books and audited financials. 

  • Former Fowler City Manager David Elias had been sentenced on two felony counts of misappropriation of public money by a public officer for using city-issued credit cards for personal and travel expenses. 

Driving the news: During Tucker’s tenure, the city received $16 million in grants and earmarks for capital projects, completed audits for four fiscal years and presented four balanced budgets. 

  • Fowler has also established reserves and is earning interest income on a number of investments. 
  • Tucker also oversaw the city establishing a full-time professionally staffed fire department, ending an historic run with a volunteer fire department.

The big picture: Her time with the city hit a wall last October, when Fowler resident Zaida Espana accused her of assault

  • The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office found the allegation to be unfounded and did not file any charges against Tucker. 
  • But Tucker said she has been berated by members of the public at every meeting since October with little defense from the council publicly and has also faced allegations of nepotism and cronyism. 

What they’re saying: “This decision did not come lightly and is significantly earlier than I desired, but my professional reputation and safety is of the upmost importance,” Tucker said in her resignation letter. “At this point in my career, I no longer enjoy or feel safe coming to the City to do my job.” 

  • Tucker said she has had enough with all of the accusations. 
  • “WIth the upcoming Council election, I do not care to be part of the fodder,” Tucker said. “I have worked too hard on my professional reputation and am anxious to remove myself from the drama that I am sure will continue in this community.” 
  • She said it became clear to her at a previous council meeting that she can only do so much to professionalize the city, leading her to decide that it was best to resign. 
  • “I have a handful of staff who also feel stress and anxiety at work,” Tucker said. “They are reluctant to have their names on memos, staff reports, or emails for fear they may be targeted, for fear they will be accused of a crime they didn’t commit. “This City is poised to lose very talented staff because of the toxicity we’ve all witnessed this last year.”

What we’re watching: Tucker will stay on as city manager until July 8. 

  • She recommended to the city council that Assistant City Manager Thomas Gaffery be considered for her position. 
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