January 2020

TCMA Management Messenger

Statewide Elections
2020 Educational Events
Management Transitions
Membership Dues
New Members
New Member Applications
2020 Intercollegiate Bowl
Meet Your Colleagues
Community Engagement
Ethics Corner
TCMA Educational Events
Memos on Meetings

statewide elections

Nominations are now open for prospective candidates for the following 2020-2021 statewide offices:  President-Elect, Vice President, and TML Board Representative.

As you think about candidates for these statewide TCMA Board positions, we encourage you to consider the following factors: active involvement in TCMA, active involvement in the TCMA region, years of municipal government service, TCMA committee service, desire to serve, level of regional support, and prior TCMA Board service. The Nominating Committee will consider each person’s candidacy in light of the current composition of the Board and will strive to achieve a balance among such factors as geography, size of city, ethnicity, and gender.

The Nominating Committee encourages you to familiarize yourself with the nomination and election schedule. For complete election information and a nomination form, please click 2020-2021 TCMA Election.

2020 Educational Events


Encourage your staff to attend the William “King” Cole Workshops to learn the fundamentals of professional city management. For more information and to register, click here.

2020 TCMA Clinic Lean On Me Logo (JPG)

Attend the annual TCMA City Management Clinic for solutions to issues impacting local government. For more information and to register, click here.


Elizabeth Lea Burns is serving as the interim city administrator of the City of New Boston.

Dennis Burton retired as the city manager of the City of Hale Center. Mike Cypert is the new city manager.

Reese Cook is the new city manager of the City of Sweeny.

Jeff Davis is the new city manager of the City of Brownfield.

Darrek Ferrell is no longer the city manager of the City of Commerce. Ned Muse is serving as the interim city manager.

Rick Hanna announced his retirement as the city manager of the City of Hereford. A date will be set for early 2020.

Denise Hitt is no longer the city manager of the City of Taft.

Kristi Gilbert is no longer the town manager of the Town of Argyle. Jeff Howell is the interim town manager.

Ronnie Guest Jr. is the new city manager of the City of Carrizo Springs.

Keith Lane will retire as the city manager of the City of Haltom, effective January 31. Rex Phelps will be the new city manager.

Alex Meade is no longer the city manager of the City of Pharr. Ed Wylie is serving as the interim city manager.

Heather Neeley is the new city manager of the City of Oak Ridge North.

Eric Strong is no longer the city manager of the City of Richland Hills. He is now serving as the deputy city manager of the City of Allen.

John Washburn is the new city manager of the City of Marfa.

Membership dues reminder

It’s not too late to renew your 2020 TCMA membership dues. Please remember that region dues are separate from statewide dues and should be paid to your respective region. To renew your statewide dues online, click TCMA Dues. This is also a good time to update your membership profile and can be accomplished at the same link.

TCMA Full and Associate members are required to complete two hours of ethics training every two years as a condition of continued membership in TCMA. Members should keep a record of their training in their personal files. If you renew online, please check the box provided to indicate the requirement was fulfilled and state the location where the training was taken in the space provided. Only TCMA, ICMA, and TML ethics trainings fulfill the requirement. Online training is available at TCMA Online Ethics Training

Thank you for your support and participation in TCMA. If you have any questions, please contact staff at 512-231-7400.

new Members

The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Board on December 31, 2019.

Full: Judith Cantrell, City Administrator, Elkhart

Associate: Trevor Minyard, Strategic Services Manager, McKinney

Student: Joseph Ducay, Texas A&M University; Maesha Meto, The University of Texas at Austin; Krisha Perkins, Stephen F. Austin State University; Kelsey Wingo, The University of Texas at Austin; Natalie McAdams, Lamar University. Students from The University of Texas at Arlington include: Jeremie Atilano, Burton K. Barr, Lynn Barrett, Taylor Brennan, Tony Brown, Kemdall Chalk, Mansi Chauhan, Cheri Colbert, Jonathan Davis, Lance DeLeon, Alyssa Dequeant, Chancellor Felton, Erik Ferner, Taylor Grant-Gates, Tony Curtis Hughes, Rachel Jenkins, Donna King, Aya Kouaho, Megan LeMaster, Nicole Little, Kimberly McAuliffe, Jenna McFadden, Corey Nesbit, Derek Nido, Justin Oppel, Chelsea O’Quinn, Jessica Orey, Ryan Patterson, Christel Pettinos, Kelsey Poole, Kathleen Rojas, Jennifer Rooth, Lisa Sack, Christi Schwanbeck, Amberley Shelby, Samuel Smith, Valerie Stegemoeller, Shannon Stephens, Jawaria Tareen, Antanette Thomas, Jared Thompson, Cecilia Ventura, Aaron Werner, Cristina Winner, Jiexi Zhang

New Member Applications

The current TCMA Board policy requires that names of new member applicants be published each month in the Management Messenger. Any written objection during the subsequent 30-day period will be reviewed by the Membership Committee. If no objections are received during this time, the names will be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval. Written objections can be mailed to TCMA, Attention: Membership Committee, 1821 Rutherford Lane, Suite 400, Austin, TX 78754. Applications received in the month of December:

Full: Elizabeth Borstad, City Manager; Athens; Alina Ciocan, City Manager, Sanger; Federico Reyes, City Manager, Pearsall; Charles Welch, City Administrator, Olney; Kathleen Weisenberger, Assistant City Manager, Portland

Associate: Jackson Brockway, Assistant to the City Manager, Cedar Park; Scotty Jones, Director of Finance, Bay City; Randi Pineda, Assistant to the City Manager, Odessa

2020 intercollegiate bowl

ICB Captains

Student captains for the 2020 Intercollegiate Bowl attended a planning meeting in the City of Kyle on December 14.  An exciting competition will be incorporated into the 2020 TCMA Annual Conference, which will be held June 4-7 in South Padre Island.

Meet your collegues

The TCMA Management Messenger introduces and welcomes Judith Cantrell, city manager of the City of Elkhart. Judith was appointed as city manager on May 30, 2019. She previously worked briefly for the City of Palestine. Prior to serving in local government, Judith worked with Bettye Lynn, partner at Lynn Law, PLLC, where she developed an interest in municipal and labor law with an emphasis in city and county administration and civil service. In addition to her new role in Elkhart, Judith also serves as the operations manager for the Texas Civil Service Reporter.

Judith and her husband, Ryan, grew up and graduated from Elkhart High School. They have two daughters, Kaylee (16) and Lexi (10). They enjoy living in a small community that affords the family the opportunity to thrive in a small “hometown” setting.

Judith enjoys interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. She enjoys sharing her family’s testimony and faith. She is the author of a book titled The Littlest Mustard Seed that tells her family’s journey to faith after losing her youngest son at 23 weeks gestation and her struggle with three cancer diagnoses.


TCMA is saddened by the passing of Michael Box, city manager of the City of Everman. Michael passed after a long struggle with cancer. The City of Everman states that he was known for the care he demonstrated to his employees. Funeral services were not known at the time of this posting.

TCMA recognizes and is saddened the passing of Jeff Ellington. Jeff was a TCMA Life member and served as the city manager of the cities of Bridge City, Center, Gilmer, Jacksonville, and Overton.  A graveside service was held on December 9 at Oaklawn Memorial Park in Center. Please keep the Ellington family in your thoughts and prayers. To read his tribute from the City of Gilmer, please click here.

TCMA also recognizes and is saddened by the passing of Walter Hill. Walter was a TCMA Life member and served as the city manager of the cities of Ingleside, Kenedy, Schertz, and Sinton. Services were held on December 30 at the Eckols Chapel in Kenedy. Please keep the Hill family in your thoughts and prayers. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to The Word Fellowship Church, P.O. Box 201, Kenedy, Texas  78119 or the First United Methodist Church, 405 West Sinton Street, Sinton, Texas 78387.

community engagement

The city management profession is filled with competing priorities – the budget process, public safety crises, disaster response, and others. When a city manager is faced with any number of these, it can be easy for community engagement to take a backseat. However, engaging your local community and encouraging input from residents is one of the most important tools for finding effective solutions for many of these challenges.

Leadership does not flourish in a vacuum. The city manager and his or her team serve as the axis among all stakeholders. City managers have the opportunity to further community engagement by empowering other staff members. Cities benefit when they have a presence in other community groups, particularly within the nonprofit sector. While the city manager may not have the time to serve on local nonprofit boards, he or she can select staff members to serve. With the proper mentorship and guidance, this can strengthen internal and external relations within a local government. This allows the manager to monitor the pulse of the community and easily disseminate information to key local stakeholders.

The City of Grand Prairie recently engaged the assistance of several nonprofit and community groups to host its first Dia de los Muertos celebration. The City’s Community Revitalization Unit led a group comprised of city council members, school district representatives, nonprofit members, and city staff to plan the event. Members of the Hispanic Association for Culture and Education were able to guide staff on the correct implementation of certain cultural traditions. Volunteers came together to build a 12 foot by 6 foot altar where community members placed pictures of their loved ones who had passed to honor and remember. Performances by local mariachi and ballet folklorico were followed by a candle light procession. With more than 700 in attendance, the event is regarded as one of the City’s most successful in 2019.

Another tool available to city managers that can aid in promoting community engagement is social media. The conversation about social media, and how to properly use it as an effective tool for community engagement, is one of the more prominent discussions in local government today. While many managers may fear the potential negativity from social media use, the potential for a positive impact is arguably worth any perceived risk.

Local governments are accustomed to a news release style of communication. However, social media platforms are built for a more interactive level of engagement. In the midst of a crisis, a city manager can tweet out resources and updates to help calm the public. During budget season, city leaders can use social media to educate citizens and increase transparency. Building relationships with your local social media influencers is also an excellent way to engage your community. These influencers generally have a large following and can assist in education and promotion for your city. City managers should embrace this new style of communication; social media is how the majority of the public is sharing and receiving information.

Public safety is also an area where community engagement can prove effective. The City of Grand Prairie has seen a 47 percent crime reduction in the last decade, due at least in part, to our community policing philosophy. In a time when law enforcement and the citizenry have been at odds across the nation, engaging businesses and neighbors throughout our city has strengthened the ties between our officers and citizens. Once a neighborhood develops a relationship with an officer, trust is generated. Community policing helps humanize the profession and break down the social barriers that often exist between officers and community members.

Community policing must be instilled in an organization as a mindset. For example, Grand Prairie’s Clean Prairie Initiative, championed by the City’s Police Department, focuses on pride of ownership designed to improve cleanliness and orderliness across the city. Clean Prairie challenges officers, staff members, and citizens alike to shift their thinking and take pride in their city by focusing on their circle of influence. With everyone taking the time to do their part, community goals can be achieved. The results of community policing are staggering – increased transparency, better quality of life, a more complete understanding of diversity – all culminating into a unified community.

Community engagement is arguably the most important thing we can do to improve the services we provide to residents. When we engage local businesses, local nonprofits, and truly take the time to engage with residents, we are able to more effectively perform our duties and improve our communities.

(Article submitted by Andrew Fortune, Assistant to the City Manager, Grand Prairie)

ethics corner

The City of Bryan Model

The Texas City Management Association (TCMA) and its members embrace a code of ethics, including related guidelines. “Ethics” is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity”; Merriam-Webster as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation”; and that vaunted source of all human knowledge Wikipedia as “a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.”

Regardless of the source, each broadly agrees that the word “ethics” is derived from the Greek word “ethos.” In its most common usage, ethos is taken to mean “a characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations.” Put simply, ethos is the expected and accepted behavior or norms of a group of people. Consequently, our modern conception of ethics can be defined as the expected behavior of a particular group of a society or the entire society.

Some groups have a defined ethics code. For example, TCMA requires all members to abide by a Code of Ethics, which includes a set of guidelines that further defines expected behavior. Like TCMA, some organizations or groups go as far as to establish rules of enforcement. Such a code is important for suggesting types of behavior best conducive to professional relationships. The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) re-enforces this statement by declaring, “…the ICMA Code of Ethics defined the principles that today serve as the foundation for the local government management profession and set the standard for excellence.”

Just as the ancient Greeks, TCMA members and ICMA members recognized the need for a standard of expected behaviors to achieve excellence.  The City of Bryan,Texas, developed a section on ethics within the City’s Personnel and Administrative Policies & Procedures Manual. Within the City’s Standards of Conduct chapter, “Ethics” is a section that employees are expected to know and follow. Employees are encouraged to judge situations by asking specific questions, such as:

  • Is the action legal?
  • Is it right?
  • Who will be affected?
  • Does it fit the City of Bryan values?
  • How will I feel afterwards?
  • How will it look in the newspaper?
  • Will it reflect poorly on the City of Bryan?

The City of Bryan policy does not ask all the necessary questions, nor does it purport to be all inclusive. The policy does establish a set of guidelines and attempts to remind employees to be cognizant of actions and how behavior may be perceived. Like some policies, a stick may need to support the carrot. Consequently, this section of the policy specifically states, “Discipline, up to and including, termination of employment will be imposed upon any employee who is found to have engaged in conduct prohibited by this policy.”

The City of Bryan City Council believes ethics to be so important that in 2013, the City Council adopted the Code of Ethics and Conduct for Elected and Appointed Officials.  This 18-page document reflects on roles and responsibilities and protocols, and conduct with one another, council and staff, the public, public agencies, boards and commissions, and the media. Following the carrot-and-stick approach mentioned earlier, it also contains a section on sanctions, which applies to staff, councilmembers, and board and commission members alike. Importantly, the City’s Code is included in information packets shared with council candidates, applicants to boards and commissions, and newly elected and appointed officials. To continually keep ethics at the forefront, the Code states, “…the Code of Ethics and Conduct shall be annually reviewed by the City Council, boards and commissions, and the City Council shall consider recommendations from boards and commissions and update it as necessary.”

In keeping with the traditions of antiquity stretching back thousands of years, the TCMA and the City of Bryan embrace the concept of a higher calling; that is, expecting more from respective members and employees. This higher standard has a tremendous impact on individuals both inside and outside of the organization. Any TCMA member who follows this higher calling has an opportunity to create community through trust and respect, no matter how large or small their organization.

(Article submitted by Hugh Walker, Deputy City Manager, City of Bryan)

TCMA Educational Events

William “King” Cole 1
January 30-31, 2020

City Management Clinic
February 27-28, 2020

William “King” Cole 2
March 26-27, 2020

TCMA Annual Conference
June 4-7, 2020
South Padre Island

#ELGL Inspire: TCMA-ELGL Joint Event

February 12, 2020
Stephen F. Austin University 

February 19, 2020
The University of Texas-Arlington

April 17, 2020
The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

Memos on Meetings

The Equity Task Force is scheduled to meet on January 10 in Austin.

The Membership Committee is scheduled to meet via conference call on January 24.

The Board is scheduled to meet on January 31 in Austin.

The City Managers of Tomorrow Committee is scheduled to meet on February 7 in Austin.

All information is current as of the 25th of the month prior to publication.

In-Transition Services
To see if you qualify for TCMA 
In-transition Services, please 
click here. For a list of current city management job openings in Texas click here.

Career Compass
Career Compass is a monthly column addressing career issues for local governmental professional staff. To view current and past articles, please click here.

Additional Resources
Visit icma.org for additional training opportunities, resources, and advancement of professional local government around the globe. 

If  you have some interesting news that you would like to see included in the Management Messenger, please email messenger@tml.org.