New Member Applications
Meet Your Colleagues
Participation in the Legislative Process
Listen, Learn, Love, and Lead
TCMA Educational Events
Memos on Meetings
It is an honor to serve as president of the Texas City Management Association (TCMA). Currently, I am in my 25th year as a city manager and member of TCMA. My first experience with municipal government was serving as an intern with the City of Baytown Parks Department. My career began with the City of Morton as a service man in the public works department. An eventual promotion to superintendent of community services paved the way for my first city management position. After serving seven years with the City of Morton, I was offered the city administrator position in the City of Sundown where I remained for nine years. Presently, I am serving in my 14th year as the city manager of the City of Navasota.
TCMA is defined as an organization of local government professionals dedicated to promoting the highest standards of governance, service, leadership, ethics, and education while embracing individual and regional diversity for the benefit of our membership and the cities of Texas. My initiative for the coming year is “leading with integrity while mentoring future leaders for Texas cities.” Mentoring is paramount in TCMA. All city managers have mentors throughout their lives who make an impact on their career. As members, we should strive to develop new talent and promote our profession.
As city managers, assistant city managers, and future city managers, we are looked upon to lead our cities through good times and difficult times. We are committed to serving the city councils and citizens of our cities, and it is imperative we do so with integrity and keep the best interest of all citizens in mind while making decisions. I am committed to doing the same for the membership of TCMA.
City Manager, City of Navasota
TCMA Board of Directors
President Brad Stafford, City Manager, Navasota
President-Elect Sereniah Breland, City Manager, Pflugerville
Vice President Jay Stokes, City Manager, Deer Park
Immediate Past President Kenneth Williams, City Manager, Buda
TML Board Representative Kelly Kuenstler, City Manager, Leon Valley
Director Region 1 Shane Stokes, City Manager, Pampa
Director Region 2 Erik Rejino, City Manager, Levelland
Director Region 3 Paul Menzies, Assistant City Manager, Wichita Falls
Director Region 4 Mark Hindman, City Manager, North Richland Hills
Director Region 5 Jay Abercrombie, City Manager, Henderson
Director Region 6 Corby Alexander, City Manager, La Porte
Director Region 7 James Fisher, City Manager, Brenham
Director Region 8 Bill Hill, III, City Manager, Shavano Park
Director Region 9 Brian DeLatte, Deputy City Manager, Portland
Director Region 10 Jeff Johnston, Assistant City Manager, McAllen
Director at Large Opal Mauldin-Jones, City Manager, Lancaster
Assistants’ Organization Representative Mayra Cantu, Management Analyst, Georgetown
TCMA Region Presidents
Region 1 Jared Miller, City Manager, Amarillo
Region 2 Phillip Urrutia, Assistant City Manager, Odessa
Region 3 Brandon Anderson, City Manager, Graham
Region 4 Jon Fortune, Assistant City Manager, Dallas
Region 5 John Whitsell, City Manager, Chandler
Region 6 Jason Reynolds, City Manager, Nassau Bay
Region 7 David Morgan, City Manager, Georgetown
Region 8 Tobin Maples, City Manager, Fair Oaks Ranch
Region 9 Jesus Garza, City Manager, Victoria
Region 10 Dan Serna, City Manager, Harlingen
Brian Bolfing is the new city manager of the City of Crawford.
Rick Chaffin is the new city manager of the City of Gunter.
Clayton Chandler retired as the city manager of the City of Mansfield after serving the City for 36 years. Joe Smolinski is serving as the interim city manager.
Will Daves is the interim city administrator of the City of Blanco.
Jim Dunaway will retire as the city manager of the City of Rusk, effective October 2.
Bill Foley is the new city manager of the City of Terrell Hills.
Paul Frederiksen is the interim city manager of the City of Duncanville.
Brian Frieda is the new city manager of the City of Ballinger.
Bruce Green is the interim city manager of the City of Lufkin.
Paul Hofmann will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Bellaire beginning August 2. He will begin serving as the new city manager of the City of Bastrop.
Jerry Hood is serving as the interim city administrator of the City of Pinehurst.
Robbie Hood is the new city manager of the City of Vidor.
Olan Massingill is no longer the city manager of the City of Brazoria. Michael Collard is the new city manager.
Rich Olson will serve as the new town administrator of the Town of Argyle, effective September 1.
Sarah West is serving as the interim city manager of the City of Ingleside while David Huseman is recovering from an illness.
Chris Whittaker was appointed as the new city manager of the City of Angleton.
Bill Yenne will retire as the city manager of the City of Lake Jackson, effective August 31. Bill served the City for 29 years. Modesto Mundo will begin serving as the city manager following Bill’s retirement.
the TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Board on June 24, 2020.
Full: Stephen Barnes, City Manager, Hughes Springs; Lacie Hale, Chief Operating Officer, Liberty Hill; Sarah Novo, City Manager, Flatonia
Associate: W. Victor Brownlees, Director of Finance, Baytown; Robert Hemminger, Emergency Services Director, Deer Park
Student: Haley Alsabrook, The University of Texas at Dallas
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 June:
Full: Gary Broz, City Manager, Edna; Marty Nelson, City Manager, Ennis; Grayson Path, City Manager, Paris; Kenneth Roberts, City Manager, Karnes City; Heather Robertson-Caraway, Interim City Manager/City Secretary, Breckenridge
Associate: Jennifer Berkich, Executive Management Assistant, Corpus Christi; Yvette Mendoza, Executive Management Assistant, Corpus Christi
Cooperating: Christian Campbell, Intern, Canyon
meet your colleagues
The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes Sarah Novo to her new position as city manager of the City of Flatonia. Sarah’s appointment began on March 16, 2020. Sarah has twenty years of local government experience including economic and community development, police, parks and recreation, office of the city council, and office of the city manager. She has extensive experience in public and private partnerships, budget development, community and economic development, grant management, and maximizing operational efficiencies.
Sarah holds a bachelor of arts in business administration from the Florida Institute of Technology with an emphasis on management and finance, and a master of public administration.
Sarah is a Credentialed Government Leader through the Municipal Management Association of Northern California, is an active member of the International City/County Management Association, has served as an instructor for the Master of Public Administration Program at the University of California - San Francisco, and is a local government mentor with both the American Society for Public Administration and the Youth Leadership America programs.
Sarah and her husband Nick have three daughters, Angelina, Victoria, and Vanessa. During time away from public service, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, horseback riding, reading, or packing a lunch and exploring somewhere new.
The TCMA Management Messenger is saddened by the passing of Lisa Elizabeth Agnor, former city manager of the City of Marshall. A memorial service was held on June 22 at Memorial City Hal Performance Center in Marshal. To view her obituary, please click Lisa Angor.
Congratulations to TCMA Distinguished Member George Schrader. Chancellor Carine Feyton of the Texas Woman’s University will confer Mr. Schrader with the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on August 14.
This rare honor was established by the Texas Legislature in 1901. Mr. Schrader has served on the Texas Woman’s University Board of Regents and is a former city manager of the cities of Dallas, Mesquite, and Ennis. TCMA is proud of the legacy he has forged for all those he has served.
participation in the legislative process
TCMA Members frequently find it difficult to determine if they can or should participate in the legislative process. This may include offering testimony, witnessing, and information that impacts a member’s city. Members may also want to assist or are invited to assist the Texas Municipal League during the legislative session. The TCMA Public Policy Task Force has developed a process that has been vetted by the Ethics Committee and approved by the TCMA Board.
While not explicit in the TCMA Code of Ethics, Tenet 7 (Presentation of Issues) and Tenet 12 (Representation), it could be argued that TCMA understands that staff often is better equipped to explain the details on a position and/or provide the necessary background. Tenet 7 speaks to referenda, but specifically states to “assist the governing body in presenting issues…” TCMA believes it is important that the elected official (governing body) is seen as partner in the presentation. To avoid being involved in the political arena, TCMA membership should be partners with and not substituted for elected officials. And while not required, it is best if the member is a partner with the elected officials/governing body of whom they are employed. It should be clear that the issue the member is to testify to or provide testimony on, impacts the member’s entity (city) directly and the position aids that entity. The entity (by its governing body) needs to clearly agree on the impact of the issue. The member should not testify, provide testimony, or approach the legislature or one of its agencies unless the member’s governing body approves. If it is not unanimous, members should be aware it could be argued it is a political issue locally and the member may be viewed as defending a political position.
There is an exception in the TCMA Code of Ethics. Members who are no longer in service are exempt and can testify, provide testimony, or approach the state legislature without any of the above. (TCMA Code of Ethics Rules of Procedure for Enforcement, Section II. Jurisdiction, A) These members include life, retired members, or cooperating who do not plan to be city employees.
The following checklist should be considered before becoming involved in the state’s legislative process.
____1. Is the issue relevant to the member’s entity (city)?
____2. Is there general consensus of the member’s governing body on the issue?
____3. Does the member have the governing body’s approval to testify or present to the state legislature or one of its agencies?
____4. Has the member made it clear to his/her governing body the position he/she is presenting on the issue(s) to the state legislature or one of its agencies?
____5. Is the presentation dealing in facts, experiences, data, information etc. more than advocacy, feelings, or a belief?
____6. Is the member assisting elected officials (are elected officials, also, participating in the process)?
Adopted by the TCMA Board on June 4, 2020.
listen, learn, love, and lead
An epidemic is when a disease spreads over a wide area and many are ill at the same time. A pandemic affects an even wider geographical area and a significant portion of the population. Over the last six months, we have been dealing with the novel coronavirus better known as COVID-19. For well over three centuries, Black Americans have been dealing with an epidemic which has now become a pandemic.
An organism is any individual entity that embodies the properties of life; it is a synonym for life form. (Wikipedia) Classism is a life form of prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class. (New Oxford American Dictionary) Sexism is a life form of prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination on the basis of sex (gender). Racism is a life form of prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or group of people based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
COVID-19 has impacted our city, county, region, state, and country beyond the way in which any widespread virus has in our recent history. This virus did not identify its victims based on any physical or social status commonly used in society. For the first time in more than 100 years, neighborhoods, communities, tribes, villages, towns, cities, counties, regions, and states have all come together to seek solutions to protect the physical, economic, and social health of individuals.
With the wide-spread closure of schools, small businesses, large corporations, retail, restaurants, and houses of worship, our communities were riddled with fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and concern. Many within our profession continue on the front lines, working to ensure that residents do not and did not experience any gaps in service. We made sure that when 911 was dialed police, fire, and/or EMS arrived. We made sure the trash was collected, and water and wastewater service continued without interruption. As plans were being implemented by many states to incrementally re-open the business, retail, and restaurants industry, a century’s old epidemic re-surfaced.
The harsh reality is that people of color have endured centuries of physical, fiscal, and social injustices that are now being more openly exposed. Smartphone and camera technology coupled with social media platforms has made it more complicated for mainstream America to ignore.
The horrific images of Mr. George Floyd with the side of his face pinned to the filthy Minneapolis street, uttering the words “I can’t breathe,” before crying “Momma” should make any human feel bothered, hurt, angry, and sad. The undeniable truth is that the visual image of his tragic death along with that of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others who have died as a result of racial and social injustices are not a new or uncommon phenomenon for Native Americans, Black Americans, Hispanics, or people of color in general. “We Shall Overcome” was the battle cry of generations past, “I can’t breathe” is the outcry for change that we are hearing in our communities by countless people of all generations, cultures, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation today.
As local government professionals, we operate by a Code of Ethics and principles that were established to ensure that we implement policies and procedures that are equitable for all regardless of political affiliation, gender, socio-economic status, or race. John C. Maxwell said that “Leadership is seeing the possibilities in a situation while others are seeing the limitations.” Our profession has embodied this message since inception. While business and industry focus on the bottom line, we are exploring how to ensure the essential services are fulfilled to create a safe, healthy, and resilient community for all residents.
To accomplish the goal of a safe, healthy, resilient, and sustainable community, we must take the time to Listen, Learn, Love, and Lead.
The health pandemic nor the racial epidemic is a red, blue, or purple crisis. We must listen to our city/county board, commission, or council who establish our governing policies, our stakeholders who have a vested interest in the impact, affect, and outcome of the policies and procedures, and our hired experts (staff) who are committed to our communities. We have to listen intently, intentionally, and consciously to what is being stated.
We must learn from our past mistakes, failures, and successes. Change is uncomfortable, and uncomfortable conversations about an individual’s physical health and race have often been labeled taboo discussions. However, if we fail to have these conversations, we cannot and will not learn and grow. We will be stagnant. There is a lesson to be learned from every situation, whether you win or lose. Emergency management drills and protocols should become regular practice within our organizations to ensure we are better prepared to respond to the next health crisis. Training is learning to ensure that we are aware of unintentional and unconscious bias that everyone possess. Learn to have the conversation; speak up when you hear or see something that is not morally or ethically right.
Love is an overly used word. To love is to show action. To love our organization is being willing to be a bright light in a dark room. Love is recognizing that all people should have personal experiences that are reflective of their legal status that “All men are created equal.” To love our organization is to ensure physical, fiscal, and social injustices are not inflicted on individuals because of their gender, socio-economic status, or race.
When we intently listen, genuinely learn, and actively love, we will effectively lead our organizations through this crisis and tumultuous environment to a changed community that can be enjoyed by all. We can and will implement policies and procedures that will have lasting impact and change for the better.
Arnold Bennett said, “Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts.” Be uncomfortable, and let’s be the change.
(Submitted by Opal Mauldin-Jones, City Manager, Lancaster)
Advocacy, Partisanship, AND Ethics in the Age of Chaos
Our country’s first president, George Washington, warned his fellow citizens about a time when our nation would experience a highly partisan and ideological political divide. Washington warned his fellow countrymen about the spirit of political parties and preventing factions from dominating the public administration of the country. It didn’t take long for that day to come, and it never really went away: from the Federalists and the Republican-Democratic Party in the early 1790s to the Civil War and Reconstruction in the 19th century, to women’s suffrage, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement, to the Vietnam war divide during the 20th century. That divide continues to persist through the first quarter of the 21st century - geographical and cultural divisions, amplified by an ideological 24-hour news cycle and the proliferation of social media. The cracks of this division on the national level have continued down to the state level and exert daily pressure on Texas city government and the profession of city management as a whole.
City managers may be seen in a negative light at the state capitol should they testify against a bill by a state elected official or the special interest groups that differ on the local control or municipal needs in a committee hearing. Senate Bill 2, commonly known as the tax cap bill, was hotly debated along with a full suite of other bills aimed at reducing the authority of local cities to govern themselves. This anti-home rule tone seems to have started as early as the 1980s over unilateral annexation authority by Texas cities and has evolved since then. In the last session of the legislature, limitations were placed on Texas cities requiring elections on annexation initiated by a Texas city, which seems to have stopped most annexations in many parts of Texas. In recent years, the Texas Municipal League has faced challenges at every turn in its efforts to assist in legislative activities of its member cities. As has become common in the United States Congress, the Texas legislature is starkly polarized by party affiliation; moderates are almost non-existent. Most voting patterns break along the same lines: left and right, urban and rural, and race. This vitriolic political milieu, as one might imagine, continually hampers the advocacy role of Texas city managers.
Recently, the TCMA Public Policy Task Force met to determine the appropriate role of a city manager for policy advocacy for their councils and community in the 2021 legislative session. The city manager code of ethics received attention in the task force, especially Tenet 7 (Issue Presentation) and Tenet 12 (Representation). The Task Force requested the assistance from the TCMA Ethics Committee to shape a responsible, credible, and ethical standard for city managers when taking on an advocacy role before the legislature. The TCMA Board recently approved the policy for participation in the legislative process issuing a memo to the TCMA membership on June 10, 2020. The TCMA Board emphasizes a partnership between the city council and the city manager with the elected body taking the lead and the city manager providing support and assistance. A six-point checklist is provided in the board policy to guide a city manager’s involvement in the legislative process without becoming political. Local elected officials should appear in legislative hearings to offer testimony on a bill. The city manager’s role is, as usual, to support the council member and provide facts and sound advice considering local conditions.
With or without local officials, the city manager may approach the legislature and state elected officials if their city council has taken a position on the legislation and it relates to a city issue or community problem. The city manager is seen to possess the expertise on giving factual advice and technical advice regarding city issues. To avoid or minimize political consequences, the city manager should have the approval of the city council to represent the city before the legislature or other agencies. It should be noted that TCMA is not substituting its judgement for the member’s judgement on local matters and political nature of the issue, though.
Over the years, city councils and city council members have not been overly politically partisan or made city policy based on either a Republican or a Democratic perspective. City managers do not invoke a Republican or a Democratic position on repairing a pothole in a city street or recommending a rate increase based on political party ideology. Recommendations by city managers are based on facts, experience, training, professional judgement, and discussions with fellow professional city managers. ICMA and TCMA have promoted the use of best practices for recommending policy and action, but the question remains: is that sufficient? Future city managers may encounter increased factionalism and partisanship if the current trend continues in the state.
In the last legislative session, House Bill 3432 was introduced to require candidates for city councils in Texas to designate their political party affiliation and the designation must appear on the ballot next to the candidate’s name. House Bill 3432 did not receive a hearing and was not reported out of committee. This bill seems to be an effort to exploit the current political divide, politicize local issues, and favor one party over the other. Political party influence was marginalized by the Progressive Reform movement during the early 20th century with the beginning of the council-manager form of government. Expertise and professionalism were valued over political expediency and partisan ideology. Some cities across the country hold partisan elections for mayor and council members. In Texas, party identification is not as important on the local level. It is more about electing the best for the needs of the city, or in some cases friends electing friends or a neighbor voting for a neighbor. How will the profession of city management in Texas respond in working with a council election based on party ideology should a bill such as House Bill 3432 become reality?
Alongside of this, Texas continues to undergo a demographic change in racial composition. Will this also change Texas city management as a profession? TCMA is already beginning to address this change with its recent emphasis on promoting equity, equality, and diversity in the profession. The current growing ideological divide in this state will challenge city managers’ ethical approach on policy and leadership not experienced before in Texas. New and future city managers will encounter a different Texas in the next 10 to 20 years. Our 34th president, the late John F. Kennedy, provided an answer to this situation which Texas city managers are practicing now when he stated, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past-let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
This is what a city manager strives to do every day at city hall by following the ICMA/TCMA code of ethics when advocating for change and making recommendations based on facts, evidence, experience, and judgement before the city council. This can be accomplished in legislative advocacy, if we follow the ethical tenets of our profession and place the citizens, our community, and the city council ahead of partisan political beliefs and the narrow special interests.
(Article submitted by Dion Miller, City Manager, Tulia)
TCMA Educational Events
#ELGL Inspire: TCMA-ELGL Joint Event
We will be back for the fall semester. Stay tuned for more information.
Tex-ICMA Coaching Webinars
(Pre-registration is required)
Managing Hostility in Public Discourse: Living in an Age of Anger
12:30-2:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 9
Charting Your Future: Developing Your Personal Strategic Plan
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, October 22
Talent Management in the 21st Century: Growing, Attracting, and Retaining Your Best
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, November 12
Memos on Meetings
The Board met on June 4 via video conference. Minutes are available here.
The Public Policy Task Force met on June 18 via video conference. Minutes are available here. The next meeting is July 23 by video conference.
The Nominating Committee met on June 24 via video conference. Minutes are available here.
The City Managers of Tomorrow Committee met on June 26 via video conference.
The Ethics Committee will meet on July 20 via video conference.
The Board will meet in Lost Pines on August 6-7.
The Professional Development Committee will meet in Round Rock on August 20-21.
The Allies Across Texas Task Force will meet in Pflugerville on August 28.
The Membership Committee will meet in Austin on September 18.