After only seven months on the job, City Manager John Hiskey surprised the City Council and employees Thursday with the announcement that he is resigning.

Hiskey, a veteran government administrator and briefly a county commissioner, said his decision to leave the approximately $50,000-per-year position was based on family and personal considerations."I can say emphatically that there was no rift," Hiskey said. "I have only the highest regard for the mayor and the City Council."

Mayor Kenneth A. Miller echoed those sentiments, saying, "If we could get him to stay, we would."

The City Council will establish a selection process for a new city manager at its next meeting, Miller said. They probably will focus on local candidates rather than repeat the nationwide search that resulted in Hiskey's selection in 1990, the mayor and council members said.

Hiskey, 42, indicated that he had accepted other employment, but refused to say where or even whether it was in the public or private sector. He said his new employer will make that announcement.

Hiskey, a Democrat, began his local government career as an assistant superintendent of parks for Salt Lake City. He became former Salt Lake Mayor Ted Wilson's assistant in 1977. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Salt Lake County Commission in 1980, Hiskey returned to Wilson's office. He took another leave of absence in 1984 to manage the unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign of Kem Gardner.

In 1986, former Salt County Commissioner Dave Watson appointed Hiskey public works director. After Watson was charged with misdemeanor drug-related charges and resigned in 1988, Hiskey was appointed to fill the remaining 31/2 months of his term.

On Aug. 1, 1990, the West Jordan City Council selected him from a field of 116 candidates to replace longtime City Manager Ron Olson, who quit because of "philosophical differences" with the council. Miller said the council may look at that list again to pick a new manager.

"We will make a decision quite quickly," the mayor said, adding that the sudden transition is not expected to disrupt the city's budgetary process. "The budget work will not be affected. It is driven by our ongoing strategic planning and not by any one individual."

Hiskey said managing one of the fastest growing cities in the country was an exciting challenge. He said his most significant accomplishment during the past seven months has been the enhancing of communication between citizens, the council and city employees.

Employees were told the news at a staff meeting Thursday afternoon, and many reacted with obvious dismay, some of them with tears.