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Tom Haglund is The Galt Herald’s Person of the Year.

He came out of retirement for the third time to help out a city in crisis. When Tom Haglund accepted the interim city manager’s job for the city of Galt, it was on the heels of a huge trash fee hike for businesses, a malware attack, an unforeseen budget deficit and the coronavirus pandemic. The city council voted him in on April 2, 2019.

Curt Campion, former city council member said Haglund was a man tailor fit to lead Galt.

“I believe having Tom Haglund step in to serve the city of Galt for the past one and a half years has been the key to our community being able to successfully navigate through some of its most challenging times,” Campion said. “His service with the city was timely and a fit that could not have been any better. Tom’s years of experience in local government, his ability to inspire people to do their very best, his dedication to public service and his general tenacity separated him from all others.”

Galt City Councilmember Rich Lozano had similar things to say.

“Tom did an awesome job as the interim city manager,” Lozano said. “He guided the city through a few major issues, including deficit spending alignment, the ransom ware attack and, most notably, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tom told me when he was asked to step in as the interim city manager, if we were looking for someone who will merely keep the city moving, he was not the right choice. He told me he wanted to work at moving the city forward and address immediate council concerns, which included the budget deficit.”

Not only was Haglund a longtime resident but he also served as the special project manager for the city of Galt in 1992. He gained the experience needed to handle the problems he found in Galt while working for the city of Gilroy and Hanford, but neither of those cities had experienced a pandemic.

Parks & Recreation Director Armando Solis worked with Haglund during his first few years with the city. He said he wants Tom to know that he truly appreciated his leadership and friendship throughout the years.

“He did such a great job the whole time he was here,” Solis said. “When I worked for Tom 30 years ago, I was too young to truly appreciate him. This time around I was able to take everything in, watch how he took control and pulled the city and its employees through the toughest times I can remember.”

Campion was impressed with Haglund’s ability to address many issues at one time.

“With Tom’s broad background and professional guidance, the city was able to address multiple serious issues with incredible success,” Campion said. “He was able to balance the city budget when faced with a significant deficit while maintaining services and avoiding layoffs. His leadership and experience were crucial in organizing and directing the city’s recovery from the malware attack on the citywide computer systems. He spent long hours and weekends with other loyal staff to make the city’s systems operational in a safe, secure and expeditious manner. In addition, his guidance addressing the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic was practical, based on community safety, with the aim of normalcy in mind, while following state and local regulations.”

Clare Tyson, the city’s finance director, said at the core of Haglund’s concerns was his desire to serve the citizens of Galt.

“That gained him a great deal of respect with Galt’s management and staff as that is truly our goal,” Tyson said. “So much can be said about the stellar leadership example Mr. Haglund set for us. He understood the business concept of ‘lead, follow or get out of the way’, which is an effective method of motivating people to do their very best while accomplishing a great deal collaboratively. When he needed to step up and lead, he did without hesitation. When it was best to encourage and trust staff to use the expertise they possessed, he stepped back, asked relevant questions and supported the team. When it was time to stay out of the way, like letting the forensic team control, contain and recover from the cyber attack, he did that too. The leadership skills, which Mr. Haglund exhibited, come in knowing when to do which of the three.”

Haglund’s devotion to the community was an integral factor in his successful leadership of Galt, according to Campion.

“His connection to the residents, businesses and dedication to the well being of the entire community, his community, was an integral part of him successfully guiding the city of Galt during some of its most challenging times ever,” Campion said.

Campion’s sentiments are shared by Lozano.

“I think Tom Haglund is well deserved in the Person of the Year recognition,” Lozano said. “As an elected member of the community for many years, I have had the opportunity to supervise many chief executive officers, and Tom is one of the best in the business. Tom is a true professional and a gentleman. He is honest, hardworking and truly cares about the Galt community.