As a city employee for almost 29 years, Rob Woolley has seen a great deal of change and opportunity for growth in Clovis. His career with the city began when he accepted the job as the assistant finance director, and now Woolley’s diligence and dedication have moved him to the office of city manager – a position he has held for more than four years.
Rob Woolley grew up in Selma, moving his family to Clovis in 1976. A Fresno State graduate, Woolley started his career with the County of Fresno as an accountant.
“That is where jobs were at the time,” Wolley recalls. “I had just finished an internship with the Sierra National Forest, and was in downtown Fresno when I saw the job posting. After a few years with the county, I applied for the job in Clovis, and the rest is history.”
Some may wonder what exactly the city manager does, especially on a day-to-day basis. Woolley’s official job duties – according to the City of Clovis website – include the administration of activities, projects and finances, all in accordance with Clovis City Council. Because the city manager is an office appointed by the council, Woolley must work with the rest of the administrative team, including the council and the city attorney, in order to execute these duties. However, Mr. Woolley’s schedule changes daily – a fact he rather likes.
“Each day is a little different. Even if I have plans…sometimes those just have to change if we have an urgency or need to address a sudden opportunity,” he said. “Like when I took over [the office of city manager]. We were just coming out of the recession, so there were fiscal issues to resolve. We tackled those, and now we are really engaging strategies on how to grow jobs here.”
Wolley said that after receiving the green light on the new civic center, downtown development is a main focus, along with the perpetual goal of making Clovis the destination of choice in the Central Valley to live, work and play.
His real job, Wolley said, is to provide the resources needed by all of the city’s departments, as fiscal constraints allow.
“I try to provide the guidance and direction, with the cooperation and agreement with the council, and then get out of the way,” he said. “I have tremendously talented and intelligent people on my team, so I know they will get the job done.”
But Woolley isn’t all work and no play; in fact, when asked about his favorite activity unique to Clovis, Woolley decided on the Friday night events that take place downtown.
“I guess I am a bit of a romanticist, but nothing beats being out and about on those warm Friday nights downtown,” he said. “It feels like a modern-day Mayberry – just the way things are supposed to be. Seeing all of those happy faces strolling, shopping and eating and drinking…I just love it.”
Speaking of eating and drinking in Clovis, what does the city manager have to say about his favorite Clovis restaurant?
“The 500 Club. Yes, definitely the 500 Club. The atmosphere is so cool there. And truly, their ribs are the best. Well, the ribs paired with an ice-cold beer.”
Ribs, a beer and a stroll through downtown Clovis on a Friday night – that sounds like a proud Clovis citizen. As for Woolley’s legacy? His passion for downtown and job creation will undoubtedly help create an even more vibrant and attractive city.
“As you know, we just passed our 100-year celebration,” he said. “My hope is that the citizens of Clovis will look back 100 years from now and say that we did a great job.”
“Following the leaders” will be a regular series in the Clovis Roundup to help readers get to know their civic leaders.
By A.T. Gilbert