January 2021

TCMA Management Messenger

TCMA Statement on Racism and Equity 
TCMA Campaign for Professional and Ethical City Management 
Management Transitions 
New Members 
New Member Applications 
Meet Your Colleagues 
Professional Awards and Scholarships 
Not Another COVID Article 
Ethics Corner 
TCMA Knowledge Base 
TCMA Educational Events 
Memos on Meetings

tcma statement on racism and equity

This past June, the TCMA Board commissioned the Allies Across Texas Task Force to develop a statement to address social challenges, including racism and equity, that is expressive and representative of TCMA values. On December 11, 2020, the Board adopted the statement below. We encourage you to embrace this statement and the values we hold dearly as TCMA members as you lead your city.

As public servants and leaders in Texas local government, we have been heartbroken and angered far too many times - the recent events in our country have shown where society has failed to promote equality and has highlighted the need for social reform and justice. TCMA adopted the code of ethics in 1984 that serves as a guide to serve the best interest of all and act with integrity so that we may earn the trust of all those we serve. Addressing systemic racism and discrimination is our ethical obligation.

As such, we are called to serve and protect the freedoms and rights of all people, especially those who have been marginalized. It is up to each of us to make our voices heard, but more importantly, to listen, to learn, and to use our voices to amplify the voices of others. 

To that end, as professional members of the Texas City Management Association:

We Stand Against:

  • Systemic racism and any form of discrimination in our communities
  • The use of excessive, unlawful force in any instance or form
  • Any inequality and oppression that exists in our organization and communities

We Stand With:

  • Those who protest in peace and take a stand for change
  • The Black community, people of color, and other individuals who are marginalized
  • Our public safety staff in providing equitable services

We Will:

  • Engage in professional dialogues within our membership and within our communities
  • Embrace new ideas, methods, and skills in support of equity and social justice
  • Recommit to the highest ideals of just and effective local government
  • Courageously step into roles that may be uncomfortable and embrace challenging conversations to positively impact social change in our organization and communities
  • Partner with our police departments and community leaders to recognize the challenge of biases to better serve our communities 
  • Actively work to build cultures of inclusion through training, recruitment, and other methods

As leaders, we are the ones who can forge real change in our own communities. As members of the TCMA, we are committed to being agents of change within our organizations and affirm our commitment to reimagine ways that can ensure our organization reflects ideals that value all people. As an Association, we help identify policies, practices, and strategies to assist our members in identifying and eliminating any inequities in their respective communities.

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tcma campaign for professional and ethical city management

For the past year under the leadership of then Chair Kelly Kuenstler, the TCMA Advocacy Committee worked with a firm to develop a campaign to promote professional city management, with city elected officials being a key target audience. On December 11, 2020, the TCMA Board unanimously accepted and approved the campaign.

As part of the campaign, materials include videos highlighting several TCMA members along with elected officials who express the importance of hiring professional local government managers. The campaign includes a website to host the material, which will be updated every two to three years, depending on circumstances. The initial campaign focuses on professional management using local government’s response to the pandemic, ethics and the Code of Ethics, and recruiting a professional manager.

Please visit the website and review the videos and related information. TCMA members are encouraged to assist with spreading this new initiative, as together, we promote the council-manager plan and professional city management.


Julie Arrington is no longer the city manager of the City of Clarksville.

Mark Bosma is no longer the city administrator of the City of Ingram.

Santos Camarillo is no longer the city manager of the city of Crystal City. Demetrio Cisneros is serving as the interim city manager.

Clyde Carter was appointed as the city manager of the City of Overton.

Michael Chambers is the new city administrator of the City of Lorenzo.

Aretha Ferrell-Benavides will be the new city manager of the City of Duncanville, effective February 22.

Chris Heard is no longer the city administrator of the City of Dickinson. Joe Dickson is serving as the interim city administrator.

Josh Jones is no longer the city manager of the City of Joshua. Mike Peacock is the new city manager.

Ana Mercado is the new city manager of the City of Sullivan City.

Lloyd Merrell is no longer the city manager of the City of Sealy.

Richard Morton is serving as the interim city manager of the City of Port Lavaca.

Jim Reed is serving as the interim city manager of the City of Morgan's Point Resort.

Crisanto Salinas will retire as the city manager of the City of Roma, effective June 2021.

Sergio Zavala is no longer the city manager of the City of Mercedes. Kevin Pagan is serving as the interim city manager.

New Members

The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Board on December 28, 2020.

Full:  Wade Willson, City Manager, Spearman

Associate: Carey Neal Jr., Assistant to the City Manager, Lancaster; Michael Neujahr, Fire Chief, Copperas Cove

Student: Mikaela Craig, The University of Texas at San Antonio; Nineta Fortini, The University of Texas at San Antonio

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: Kristina Hale, Assistant City Manager, Laredo; Warren Hutmacher, City Manager, Hutto

Associate: Rayna Willenbrink, Economic Development Specialist, Navasota

Cooperating: Howard Etheridge, Managing Director, Texas, Goman + York

meet your colleagues

The TCMA Management Messenger introduces and welcomes Howdy Wayne Lisenbee. Howdy began his appointment as the city manager for the City of Commerce on November 2, 2020.  He began his career in public service in 2000 and has served the communities of the City of Anson as a city manager, the City of Abilene as a director, and the Town of Pecos City as an assistant city manager.   

Howdy has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in business administration from Hardin-Simmons University and is a certified public manager in the State of Texas.  He also has two degrees and a participation trophy from the School of Hard Knocks. 

Howdy and his wife, Sharla, have been married 19 years and have four kids and four grandkids. He enjoys hunting, camping, reading, playing golf once every other year, taking long walks off of short piers, and teaching his grandkids all the things he wouldn’t let his kids do.


TCMA is deeply saddened by the passing of George Schrader. George was one of five TCMA Distinguished members. The TCMA Board of Directors awards this honor to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the management profession and good local government and whose years of distinctive service and contributions have been particularly beneficial to the association and the council-manager plan.

George served as the city manager of the cities of Ennis, Mesquite, and Dallas. Upon his retirement from city government, he remained a public servant throughout his life and most recently received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Texas Woman’s University. George also contributed to the TCMA Legacy Leaders project. His interview can be viewed at the following link: George Schrader Legacy Leader.

Please keep his wife, Barbara, and family in your thoughts and prayers. 

For a complete reading of his obituary and a link to a live-streamed service on January 7 at 1:30 p.m., please click here

In lieu of flowers and according to George’s wishes, please contribute to one of his favorite charities:

Baker University: The President’s Vision Fund 

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School: Gynecological Oncology Research

The Dallas Foundation: The George R. Schrader Fund 

Highland Park United Methodist Church: Night Owl Program 

Friends of the Dallas Public Library 

Courtney SharpTCMA is saddened by the passing of Courtney Sharp on December 5. He recently retired as the city manager of the City of Midland and previously served as the city manager of the City of Mount Pleasant. He was the TCMA president in 2009.

Courtney was a friend and mentor to many. He will be missed.

A memorial service was held on Thursday, December 10, at the Mid-Cities Community Church in Midland with the burial following on Friday at the Memory Gardens in Amarillo. A memorial donation can be sent to KWO Kenya Widows and Orphanage Ministries at www.kwoministries.org

Please keep his daughters, Hanna, Reagan, and Madison, and the entire Sharp family in your thoughts and prayers.

TCMA Awards Scholarships_banner

IS JANUARY 8, 2021, AT 5:00 P.M.


  • Administrator of the Year Award
  • Assistant of the Year Award in Memory of Valerie Bradley (New)
  • City Council of the Year Award
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Mentoring Award in Memory of Gary Gwyn
  • Terrell Blodgett Academician Award

For information and applications, click here


  • Barney L. Knight Texas CPM Scholarship
  • Clarence E. Ridley Scholarship
  • Leadership Development Scholarship
  • Tom Muehlenbeck Scholarship (Deadline April 2)

For information and applications, click here

If you have questions about any of these programs, contact Emily Hughes at emily@tml.org of 512-231-7400.

Not another covid article

As I sit to write this article eight months into the pandemic, I am flooded with emails and articles about how to manage through COVID-19. The last thing I want to do is think about COVID-19, let alone read or write about it. But as I look for topics that might be of interest, everything is related to our COVID response. Everything we’ve been trained to do as managers and leaders was an essential skill in responding to the pandemic. The challenges we faced during the crisis required us to muster every lesson and experience to meet the challenges of 2020.    

As leaders in complex organizations, we bring different skills to the position. Problem solving, employee relations, council relations, and customer service are the skills we focus on every day. We can never expect to perfect all these skills. They are things we must continue to work on. The following are brief examples of how our skills can be used throughout our careers.  And they may come in handy during a crisis.  

  • Employee Motivation. Surprisingly, not every employee will have the same enthusiasm or commitment to the organization as we would like. The nature of some positions wear people down over time. It is the job of the manager to be the cheerleader and motivate employees.  Reminding them of their purpose and giving praise is critical to motivating employees to bring their “A” game every day. It is also important to focus on the things that impact employees.  There are big things and little things that impact employees. When the big things are out of reach, like pay, focusing on the little things is essential.  

  • Customer Service. Meeting the expectations of citizens will always be a challenge. Whether it is the quality of the service, the speed of the service or some unrealistic idea of how cities operate, citizens expect our best, all the time. Communication, education, and a professional attitude are key to building trust with citizens.
  • Problem Solving. There is always room for improvement and as leaders we should always be looking for these opportunities. We should also instill this belief in all our staff. When there are too many problems facing you at once, you will need to rely on the creativity and abilities of everyone in your organization. Building trust in your team and giving them the opportunities to find and solve problems is something we should do every day. When your staff knows your expectations and how they can contribute to the mission, they will bring great ideas. And when employees are part of the solution, they will be committed to its success.
  • Council Relations. There is no such thing as over communicating with elected officials. While most of the time we tend to focus on big picture items like development and budget or less complex items like citizen issues, there is a middle area that adds to the understanding of how the organization works. Depending on your individual style, finding ways to share successes, failures and challenges with the Council brings them closer to the organization and when the time comes, they are there to help communicate with citizens when a program or service doesn’t go as planned.  

  • Evaluate what you do. Typically, there is an after-action report or a briefing after a major event. Incorporating a de-brief or evaluation of more routine program or service changes is necessary to find improvements. These don’t have to be formal meetings with reports, but a good conversation with the employees, supervisors and managers will provide great insight into your operations. And this ties back to employee motivation. The people we depend on to implement the Council’s vision will be champions of this vision if they feel they have a voice in how things are implemented.  

There is no magic to any of this. It takes commitment and time to bring these habits into your own management style, but also implement throughout your organization. In 2020, I found out that much of what we have done in the organization paid off. Within a few days of statewide closures, we had new employee policies and service models. We implemented new safety protocols and continuously refined them. When we impacted the lives of our citizens, our Council was out in front to communicate with those impacted. And we have communicated our commitment to our employees by focusing on their safety and providing the tools to deliver services in a different manner. There is no perfect organization, and we had our challenges, but there is nothing to compare to seeing your entire staff rise to the occasion during a crisis.   

Be proud of yourself. You had to make difficult choices and have difficult conversations. You probably worked a few extra hours along the way. To quote my old boss, Mark Hindman, “It is easy to sail a ship on the open sea. The challenge comes when there are icebergs in your way.” 

(Article submitted by Cliff Keheley, City Manager, City of Mesquite)

Ethics Corner

Tenet 4 - Serve the best interests of the people

Serve the best interests of the people. This simple yet powerful statement epitomizes the role of public servant leaders. In 2019, the TCMA Board approved this recent simplification further highlighting the importance of what it means to serve others. 

”…of the people” is a pretty big target, with much open to interpretation. Merriam-Webster defines people as, “human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest.” Everyone within a city or served by a public entity has a common interest in its operations, especially since the public entity is to provide a service or services to the public.   In the case of a city, it is the general public of that city.  The tenet purposely was intended to be inclusive of the general public as well as the staff and governing board that a public manager is obligated to.  Public servant leaders are entrusted with a responsibility to selflessly ensure that the best interest of the people is always considered.

Two core principles that are essential in fulfilling public service are transparency and communication. Transparency roughly means operating in a way that is easily observed by others. More practically, it involves ensuring the information a community’s stakeholders receive is timely, accurate, factual, and relevant. Embracing transparency provides elected officials with the framework and building blocks to guide and realize their vision. Further, it conveys to staff the knowledge and resources necessary to accomplish city objectives. Finally, it engages the community and aids in understanding the municipality’s overall strategy; even if groups are not always pleased or supportive with the direction, they are at least aware of it.

Communication, by contrast, is the act of getting the right message to the right person at the right moment to accomplish transparent goals. Maintaining a proactive edge on communication mitigates the chances for or impact of a negative reactions or rumors. Not every team member, elected official, or resident will agree with every decision or action, but it is the leader’s responsibility to stay engaged regardless of how challenging a situation may be.

Although all of the tenets are of equal importance and value, serving the best interests of all correlates directly to each of the remaining tenets. Weston Davis, an emerging city management servant leader, highlights Tenet 4 as “…always do what is best for the people, and not what is best for ourselves.” He notes every decision has a tradeoff regardless of the ideas presented and the second and third-order effects of those decisions must be weighed and considered carefully. This idea underscores the importance of having a diversity of thought to gain varying perspectives into the impacts and outcomes of decision making.

Tenet 4 may be simple, but the gravity of its meaning is massive, and serves as a fantastic “North Star” guidepost for the rest of the tenets. Serve the best interests of the people, and the profession will be served, in turn.

(Article submitted by Dalton Rice, Management Analyst, Mont Belvieu)

tcma knowledge base

A collection of documents that members have shared are available in the TCMA Knowledge Base. Documents include COVID-19, Ebola, public policy training toolbox, and sample legislative agendas. If you have documents, best practices, or programs your city has found helpful and you would like to make them available, please send to Kim Pendergraft at kim@tml.org


William "King" Cole Session I
January 27-29, 2021
Virtual Event

William "King" Cole Session 2
March 25-26, 2021
San Antonio

City Management Clinic
April 22-23, 2021

#ELGL Inspire: TCMA-ELGL Joint Events

February, 2021
Texas State University

April, 2021
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Memos on Meetings

The Board met on December 10 and 11. The minutes are available here.

The Public Policy Task Force meets every Thursday via video conference.

The Allies Across Texas Task Force will meet January 8 via video conference.

The City Managers of Tomorrow Committee will meet January 15 via video conference.

The Membership Committee will meet January 20 via video conference.

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.