May 2023

TCMA Management Messenger

TCMA Annual Conference
Mental Health Awareness Month
Management Transitions
New Members
New Member Applications
TCMA Board Activities
Meet Your Colleagues
Having No Regrets; Life is Too Short
Ethics Corner
Professional and Ethical City Management
TCMA Educational Events
Memos on Meetings

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Registration and housing are now open for the 2023 TCMA Annual Conference.

Coming Soon!
Mobile App for all your conference information

Follow conference updates, activities, and interact on Twitter using the official hashtag #2023TCMAconference.

mental health awareness month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Just like caring for our physical health, mental wellness is also critical to overall health. The challenges of our profession can be draining, weigh heavy, and take a toll, and TCMA is committed to the health and well-being of its members and their families. TCMA in partnership with Deer Oaks, encourages you to take advantage of the programs offered through Deer Oaks.

 Two new on demand webinars are now available.

 These new articles are also available for your review.

To access your benefits, contact Deer Oaks at 888-99-7250 or visit the Deer Oaks website and log into the TCMA portal at The login and password are TCMA. You can also access services through the iConnectYou app in the Apple Store and Android Play Store with the code “231963.”

Management transitions

Patrick Arata is the interim town manager of the Town of Trophy Club.

Scott Albert will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Hondo. He will begin serving as the city manager of the City of Gatesville, effective May 10. Robert Herrera will serve as the interim city manager of the City of Hondo.

Rick Chaffin is no longer the city manager of the City of Gunter.

William Cox is no longer the city administrator of the City of Bandera.

Savannah Fortenberry is the new city manager of the City of Ranger.

Darrell Kennon is the new city manager of the City of Vernon.

Rodney Kieke will no longer serve as the city administrator of the City of Quitman. James Attaway will serve as the new city administrator,

Bryan Langley will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Burleson, effective May 18. He will begin serving as the new city manager of the City of Kyle.

Tobin Maples will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Fair Oaks Ranch. He will begin serving as the town administrator of the Town of Highland Park. Scott Huizenga will serve as the acting city manager of the City of Fair Oaks Ranch.

Steven McKay will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Merkel, effective May 17.

Maria Merrell retired as the city manager of the City of Quitaque. 

Bernie Parker is no longer the city manager of the City of Keene.

Maya Sanchez is no longer the city administrator of the City of San Elizario.

Merle Taylor retired as the city manager of the City of Snyder. Elias (Eli) Torres is serving as the interim city manager.

Michele Warwas is the new city manager of the City of Yorktown.

New Members

The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Committee on April 26, 2023.

Full: Jeffrey Brasher, City Administrator, Seymour; Matthew Dear, City Administrator, Lytle; Kevin Hodges, City Manager, Childress; Kimberly Judge, City Manager, Dayton; Traci Leach, Deputy City Manager, Coppell; Brent Sheets, City Manager, Fritch

Associate: J Matthew Feryan, Sr. Management & Budget Analyst, Grapevine; Spencer Foster, Assistant to the City Manager, Fate; Valencia Garcia, Assistant to the City Manager, Addison; Breanna Higgins, Assistant to the City Manager, Pflugerville; Santosha Pratt, Assistant to the City Manager, Balch Springs; Sasha Ricks, Finance & Human Resources Director, Blanco; Ken Schmidt, Director of Development Services, Addison; Caroline Waggoner, Director of Public Works, North Richland Hills

Cooperating: Isaac Bernal, Special Projects Manager, San Antonio; Lee Ann Gibson, Regional Client Service Manager, KSA; Cheryl Orr, Co-Managing Director, Institute for Excellence in Public Service; Omar Williams, Assistant to the Executive Director, Texas Coalition for Affordable Power

Student: Carisa Balmos, John Bosco Boadi-Quaye, Virginia Finster, Chris Tiedemann, Texas Tech University; Maya Budhrani, Jack Callaham, Diego Alejandro Lopez, Texas A&M University; Laud Dei, LaSonia Stewart, University of Texas, Arlington; Keith Love, Marko Garcia, University of North Texas

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 April:

Full:  Dean Huard, City Manager, Village of the Hills; Savannah Fortenberry, City Manager, Ranger; Gary Palmer, City Administrator, Montgomery; Josh Ramirez, Assistant City Manager, Harlingen; Caryn Riggs, Assistant City Manager/CFO, Bedford; and Jawaria Tareen, Chief of Staff, Farmers Branch

Associate:  Sandra Busch, Assistant to the City Manager, Friona; Robert “Chad” Marbut, Director of Capital Projects, Weatherford; Sharon Valiante, Public Works Director, Fulshear; Cristina Winner, Community Services Director, Crowley; and Jacob Worth, Assistant to the City Manager, Cedar Park

TCMA Board activities

The TCMA Board met in the City of Deer Park for a Strategic Planning meeting and Board meeting April 20-21.

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TCMA President Jay Stokes welcomed the Board and shared a bit of history during dinner at the Monument Inn in La Porte.

meet your colleagues

The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes Gerardo Barrera to his new position as the city administrator of the City of Bunker Hill Village as of January 23. Prior to joining the City of Bunker Hill, Gerardo served in various technical and management positions as utility technician, contract administrator, management analyst, general services superintendent, assistant public works director, and public works director for the City of West University Place.

Gerardo received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Houston-Downtown and is expected become a Certified Public Manager in June 2023.


The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes Mike Holder to his new position as the city manager of the City of Kaufman as of March 1. Mike also served the City of Kaufman in the positions of assistant city manager and police chief.  Prior to joining the City of Kaufman, Mike served as an assistant city manager, director of public safety, and police chief in the City of Colleyville.  He began his local government career with the City of Dallas serving more than 20 years.

Mike received his bachelor’s degree from Amberton University.

Mike and his wife, Shana, have been married for 34 years and have three grown children and six grandchildren. He is very active in the community and serves as an elder at his church.

Having no regrets - LIFE IS TOO SHORT

In November 2021, I wrote an article that highlighted my career and journey in the city management profession. I briefly covered the early and middle years and the most recent time of my career. When the article was published, I was serving as a first-time city manager for the City of Nacogdoches. It is now May 2023 (18 months later) and my goodness the circumstances have changed dramatically. 

There were personal and professional moments for me and my family in 2022, making it a pivotal year. My youngest daughter Allison graduated from high school in May and started as a freshman at Texas Tech later that fall. 

Also, in May, my father-in-law passed away after a yearlong illness. We knew he was in poor health, but he had this invincible aura about him that caught us by surprise when he died. My wife Jennifer, who is an only child, had to step up and help her mom make decisions because of the circumstances. 

In the meantime, Jennifer also left a more than 23-year career at her school district, sold our home in Coppell, and moved to Nacogdoches so we could set up our lives as empty nesters. 

In the late summer, I felt the political winds shifting in “Nac” as the mayor and another veteran council member had doubts they would be seeking re-election in 2023. In the fall, I decided to begin the search for other employment. Then in December, my oldest daughter Katelyn (a former Tom Muehlenbeck Scholarship recipient) graduated with honors from Texas State University in San Marcos. 

In writing this article, I reflected on the events that occurred in 2022, how it affected me, and ways I learned to cope with the challenges. The following observations is not a reflection of mastery of skill but more of a work in progress. 

1. Check your health and just as importantly your mental health. The stressors of life, good or bad, can put significant strains on a person. Stress may cause you to eat poorly and/or become more sedentary, and these things will catch up with you.   

I say these things from experience. In 2022, I developed some bad habits and now I am on blood pressure medication. The doctor advised me to lose a few pounds and find ways to lighten my stress. Such lifestyle changes are easy to say and read about but can be hard to do and be sustained. 

The mental health aspect is no joking matter. Mental health coverage and discussions are becoming more the norm and are serious. It is impressive to see that TCMA has taken the mental wellness of its members as a priority. We all know how stressful our jobs are and even the most well-rounded person needs a mental health break every now and then. For more information on TCMA’s new mental health initiative, please visit and look for the link on the Mental Wellness Assistance Program. 

2. Maintain and enhance your relationships. The Report Card for America’s Infrastructure assesses the overall grade of “C” for United States bridges, meaning that several thousands of bridges across the United States are structurally deficient or are in “poor” condition. Clearly, we have work to do. Similarly, we should be working to bridge or build our relationships. This takes time and energy, but it is so very worthwhile.

The time spent in communities has allowed me to collect people and garner friendships along the way. Maintaining ties with people you have met, but don’t see often, takes discipline. You never know when life could bring you full circle with a person that you worked for or with during a long career. It is very possible that over time the roles of a relationship shift between subordinate, peer, and supervisor. This was the case in my time in Nacogdoches and now in Prosper.

The most difficult challenge I face is not letting negative experiences with certain people keep affecting me, even after leaving. I struggle at times to not hold on to grudges. This is a work in progress for me that requires reminders to move on and let go. In the book, The Hero Code by Admiral William R. McRaven, he writes, “Forgiveness will never be easy. It was not meant to be. It takes a strong person to forgive. But the act of forgiving will strengthen your character immeasurably and it will rid you of hatred that is the demise of so many good men and women.” 

3. Stop, look up, and assess your circumstances. I have heard that “sometimes you have to slow down before you speed up.” I have found this to be so true. When assessing what was going on in our lives, it is human nature to get wrapped up emotionally on the matter. Finding mentors that help you find clarity on an issue or view it from a non-emotional perspective is so powerful. Mentors are there to listen to our issues and give guidance. It is up to us to make the decisions that work best. Having mentors around will solidify that they are our support.

In February 2023, I started my new role as the town manager for Prosper. The challenge of a new job, finding new housing, and acclimating to an unfamiliar environment is stressful. In writing this article, it has allowed me to reflect on the journey of the last six to eight months. I still struggle with ensuring that I am doing all I can to be better. In closing, our life journey is more about us personally and how we react to things vs. someone else. Therefore, my advice is to make the most of the opportunities presented and to have no regrets, because life is too short. 

(Submitted by Mario Canizares, City Manager, Prosper)

ethics COrner

Keeping your city council informed should be a top priority to maintain a good council/manager relationship. Also, keeping them informed is essential to keeping yourself and your staff out of difficult situations.  Always remember the tenets you were taught.  The principal guideline of Tenet 10 is “information sharing.” Members should openly share information with the governing body; don’t be accused of not keeping your council informed.

We will discuss an elected official attempting to direct the work assignments of staff. This is typically a clear charter violation in most cities. In this scenario, we have an elected official who has met with the building official regarding the issuance of several building permits. The building permits in question are for a friend of the elected official who is building a new subdivision in the community. The developer is anxious to get started and wants building permits issued without a full review in order to expedite the process.  The building official was very uncomfortable because of the way the elected official talked to him and ordered him to issue the building permits by the end of the business day. 

In most cities, the city charter dictates that all communication or direction to staff from the council shall go through the city manager. Although this charter requirement is fine on paper, it is difficult to follow in real life. All council members are elected officials. Elected officials live in the community they serve and often have personal relationships with staff members. This is exponentially true the smaller the city is.  

Mid-level to senior managers need to be cognizant of this fact and take it with a grain of salt.  Although most elected officials do not inherently intend to interfere in or direct staff activities, it does happen from time to time.  Staff must be trained to listen to elected officials’ comments, answer any questions they may have, but not engage on topics that may result in overstepping boundaries. Staff should always be respectful of the elected officials; it is not the staff’s job to enforce the charter requirements. 

As stated before, although most charters dictate that all communication or direction for staff must come through the city manager, there is nothing that prohibits an elected official from talking to staff, asking questions or expressing their view on city topics. After all, they were elected by the people. Staff just needs to be trained and cognizant of anything that goes over the line. If it does, it must be reported to a supervisor.  In this scenario, the building official advised his department head of the situation, and the department head advised you as city manager.

The demand by the elected official for the building official to issue permits is a clear charter violation. Elected officials cannot direct staff in any way. All communication to staff should come through the city manager only. So, what is your best approach to this problem?

The relationship that you have with your mayor and other elected officials will come into play, but the quickest and easiest solution is communication. You may want to hold a meeting with the city attorney and the elected official to explain the charter requirements and how they relate them. Before any of this happens, you should loop in the mayor to tell them what is going on and how you plan to address it.

In this meeting, advise the elected official that you are here to help and do not want to be a barrier for anyone. Let them know that if they work through you, you will do everything in your power to help them out and meet their needs.  It is also an option to bring up the topic of how not following your own rules, and the rules of the state, can create risks and problems for the city. In the case of issuing building permits without the proper reviews and due diligence, it can become a case of negligence on the city’s part. People typically want to do the right thing and when they understand the reason behind a policy or the consequences involved in going around the process, they will be more accepting of your point of view.   

The second and more difficult solution is to, once again, talk to the mayor and get their feedback of your approach. Many times, the mayor, as the head of the Council, will assist you with the challenge caused by another elected official.  The mayor has insight and a relationship that you don’t have with other elected officials. They can usually provide guidance on what the best approach might be when another an elected official oversteps their role with your staff. Whether that approach is in a meeting with the elected official, you and the mayor, or in an executive session with all of the council, communication is important.

As city manager, you want your elected officials to get what they need quickly and you don’t want to be a barrier, but at the same time, you don’t want to create more work for your staff. Clear lines of communication and delineated duties and roles for everyone is the best option you have with your council.

(Article submitted by Ed Wylie, Deputy City Manager, City of Pharr)

Professional and ethical city management

The TCMA Advocacy Committee would like to remind members to spread the message about professional and ethical city management. Information can be found through TCMA and ICMA resources. Click Professional and Ethical City Management to learn more.

tcma educational EVENTS

2023 TCMA Annual Conference
June 8-11, 2023

TCMA Podcast  
Perspectives on City Management  
Listen to episodes here.

Memos on Meetings

The 100 Year Celebration Task Force met on April 5 by video conference. Meeting minutes are available here. The Committee is scheduled to meet on May 9 by video conference.

The Membership Committee met on April 13 by video conference. Meeting minutes are available here. The Committee is scheduled to meet on May 9 by video conference.

The TCMA Ethics Committee met on April 13 by video conference. Meeting minutes are available here.

The Board met on April 21 in Deer Park.  Meeting minutes are available here.

The Professional Development Committee is scheduled to meet on May 10 by video conference.

The Public Policy Task Force meets every Thursday by 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 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