Nogales’ city manager tendered his resignation last Wednesday, the same day that a city council meeting exposed divisions among the councilmembers about the manager’s future at city hall.
In a letter dated July 3, City Manager Frank Felix stated that he would leave his role effective Aug. 2. His 18-month contract was set to expire on Aug. 7.
Also in a July 3 letter, Planning and Zoning Director and Assistant City Manager Frank Dillon wrote that his last day at the city would be July 26.
It was not immediately clear whether the resignations were related, and neither Felix nor Dillon responded to multiple phone calls and emails requesting comment.
The departures mark the first high-profile resignations since Mayor Arturo Garino took office in January.
Former Mayor John Doyle’s administration was marked by internal discord and several resignations, including some employees who described a “toxic” work environment at the city.
Garino said on Friday that he was “not worried” about finding replacements for Felix and Dillon and downplayed any divisions at city hall.
The mayor said that he had informed Felix the previous week that he intended to open a search process for a city manager, meaning that Felix would need to re-apply if he wanted to keep his job.
Garino included an action item on the July 3 meeting agenda to officially begin the search.
During the meeting, councilman Marcelino Varona, Jr. expressed frustration at the mayor’s move and praised Felix for being a “loyal” city employee.
Varona was joined by councilmen Jorge Maldonado and Hector Bojorquez in supporting a motion that would have postponed any search process until the council conducted a performance evaluation for Felix.
But the mayor and councilmembers Esther Melendez-Lopez, Robert Rojas, and Nubar Hanessian quashed Varona’s move.
After his attempt to postpone the search failed, Varona told Felix, “I support you, Dr. Felix, and I want you to know, If I was in your position, I’d get the hell out of here.”
Felix showed no expression during the council’s discussion.
In a 4-3 vote supported by Garino, Melendez-Lopez, Rojas and Hanessian, the council passed a motion to begin the search process.
Felix’s resignation marks the end of two-and-a-half years with the city.
He worked as former Mayor Doyle’s executive assistant from January until November 2017. At that time, he was appointed Acting City Manager following Carlos Rivera’s departure from the job. In February 2018, the city voted to make Felix the permanent city manager, inking an 18-month contract on Feb. 7.
Dillon will be leaving after more than three years working for Nogales. He became the city’s planning and zoning director in May 2016 and took on the additional role of assistant city manager in July 2018.
Garino said that he did not expect the city to hire a replacement for Felix before his Aug. 2 departure and was not sure who would serve as acting city manager after that date, but he mentioned that he would consider current Deputy City Manager John Kissinger for the role.