NewsCovering Kern County


Mayor of McFarland discusses next steps for city manager position

Posted at 5:48 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 20:50:20-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Today the Bakersfield Police Department officially issued a missing person poster for McFarland City Manager, John Wooner.

Mayor Manuel Cantu of McFarland said although this disappearance is out of character and hard on Wooner's family and the community, officials have to keep the city running appropriately no matter what.

The Mayor shared more about what the city has planned to do, during Wooner's absence Friday.

"We're still very dumbfounded we don't know what to make of it, of him missing," Cantu said.

Mayor Cantu along with many other city council employees have been hoping for the best ever since Wooner disappeared Tuesday night.

"It's not like him, it's out of character for him so it's very difficult to try to figure out because you don't want to start thinking the worst and yet at the same time we want to stay positive," Cantu said.

According to Cantu, after Wooner left the city of McFarland Tuesday night he seemed fine emotionally and it was normal for him to take a city vehicle home with him.

"An executive person like him that is always something. You either give them a car allowance or you provide a vehicle for them," Cantu said.

Cantu said Wooner told family members that he was going to stop by the Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery to visit his father's gravesite and he would be home after, but he never made it home.

According to police after Wooner's wife reported him missing to authorities, cemetery employees confirmed they saw Wooner in the cemetery in a city vehicle around 5:30 Tuesday evening.

"But as time goes by it's very hard to then process...ok well what do we do in the meantime," Cantu said.

Cantu said even though his staff and directors are equipped to fill the void during Wooner's absence, before he disappeared he was working on important negotiations for the fire department and the school district.

"Like I mentioned the county we're currently working with them on a fire contract, we're also negotiating with the school board on some projects, developers...people coming in and wanting to start developing and other business in town that are seeking his input for new development in town," Cantu said.

Cantu said even though the city manager job can be stressful, Wooner balanced it well.

"Running a city...that's not an issue for John, he has done a phenomenal job overcoming many, many obstacles and odds as it relates to his management," Cantu said.

Cantu said Wooner is an instrumental core keeping the city of McFarland up and running. Cantu said they owe it to him and his family to wait for him to safely return home.

Cantu said they will not be looking for an interim replacement unless they have to.

"It could be several weeks I don't want to believe it would extend beyond a month we really don't know we're hoping to know as soon as possible that he is home and safe," Cantu said.

According to Cantu, if the city is forced to move forward they will interview candidates to fill an interim City Manager position and then later city council and committee members would decide on a permanent candidate.

If you have information on Wooner's whereabouts, call BPD at 327-7111.