A Legacy Leader Turns 100
New Member Applications
Meet Your Colleagues
The Great Resignation and Succession Planning
Handling "Right vs. Right" Ethical Dilemmas with Tact and Grace in City Management
Around the State
TCMA Educational Events
Memos on Meetings
A legacy leader turns 100
The TCMA Management Messenger celebrates and honors TCMA Distinguished member Terrell Blodgett for turning 100 on September 15. Terrell’s life and contributions were celebrated at the ICMA Annual Conference Opening Session on October 1.
Terrell has spent a lifetime in public service and to TCMA and the city management profession. He has been an encouragement and mentor to many. Listen to Terrell share life experiences on the TCMA podcast titled “Sage Insights from Terrell Blodgett” or watch his TCMA “Legacy Leader” interview here.
Julie Arrington is the new city administrator of the City of Whitesboro.
Erica Berry is no longer the city administrator of the City of Bangs.
Dustin Bradley is the new city administrator of the City of Knox City.
Nathan Burd is the new city manager of the City of Nassau Bay.
Rod Carroll (police chief) is serving as the interim city manager of the City of Vidor.
Tim Drake is the new city administrator of the City of Kountze.
Ana Mercado is no longer the city manager of the City of Sullivan City. Reynaldo Cortes is serving as the interim city manager.
Debbie Molina is the interim city manager of the City of Jourdanton.
Uryan Nelson is the interim city manager of the City of Morgan’s Point Resort.
Tammy Soliz is no longer the city administrator of the City of Point Comfort.
Jeffrey Stanley is no longer the city administrator of the City of Howe. Monte Walker is serving as the interim city administrator.
Winston Stephens is the new city administrator of the City of Haskell.
Isaac Turner is the interim city manager of the City of Leander.
Keith Whitfield will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Daingerfield. He will begin serving as the city manager of the City of Marlin.
The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Committee on September 25, 2023.
Full: DeWayne Armstrong, City Administrator, Pineland; Beau Falgout, Assistant City Manager, Cedar Park; Dr. Jonathan Flores, Interim City Manager, Pharr; David Friedlein II, Assistant City Manager, Pharr; Jason Magnum, Assistant City Manager, Missouri City
Associate: Brianna Brown, Business Development Director, Lubbock; Justin Eastwood, Director of Parks and Recreation, Denison; Esther Weaver, Communications & Marketing Manager/Assistant to the City Manager, Morgan’s Point Resort
Student: Richard Estes and Syeda Sabahat Nakvi, University of North Texas; Rebecca Foley, Texas A&M University
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 September:
Full: Collin Boothe, Assistant City Administrator/Director of Finance; Jim Devlin, Assistant City Manager, Hewitt; Trent Epperson, City Manager, Pearland; Michael Neu, Chief of Staff, Leander; Winston Stephens, City Administrator, Haskell; Brian Weaver, City Manager, Merkel
Cooperating: Charlie Dankert, Account Manager, Veregy
Meet Your Colleagues
The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes Mayra Cantu to her new position as city administrator of the City of Bartlett. Mayra’s appointment as city administrator began on July 31, 2023. Prior to joining the City of Bartlett, Mayra served as management analyst, assistant to the city manager, and strategic support manager with the City of Georgetown. Mayra started her local government career in 2018 at the City of Grand Prairie as an intern in the city manager’s office.
Mayra received her master’s in public administration from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2019. She was awarded the Assistant of the Year Award in Memory of Valerie Bradley in 2021.
Mayra and her wife, Jordan, have two kids, Maceon and Myles. Her hobbies include cooking, grilling, golf, and trying new bourbons.
TCMA recognizes ICMA Mountain Plains Regional Director and TCMA Life Member Karen Daly. Karen will retire on December 31, 2023, to spend more time with her family. In addition to her service at ICMA, Karen has a 31-year career in Texas local government, including serving as city manager for the cities of Hutto and Greenville, assistant city manager for the cities of Sugar Land and Longview, and assistant to the city manager for Arlington.
Karen represented the ICMA Mountain Plains Region with great passion, and those who serve in the state of Texas thank her and wish her well.
the great resignation and succession planning
I’m not sure if any city has been able to avoid the recent changes in the labor market. Talented employees are departing organizations for a variety of reasons including different experiences, flexible schedules, and better pay. These personnel shifts can significantly impact the progress you are making in your community and result in spending more time in the hiring process. In Mesquite, the exodus of employees in all departments has not only impacted our service delivery but created weaknesses in our emergency responses as well. And while we had succession plans in place, those plans didn’t account for people retiring early or finding career opportunities outside the organization.
We tend to rely on the ability to develop a deep bench of employees who can fill in when others are on leave or move on from the organization through retirement or pursuing other opportunities. However, it has become more of a challenge when the people you are developing leave for similar opportunities closer to home or shorter work weeks. The loss of institutional knowledge, especially when it comes to emergency operations, can be devastating. When you count on people to respond without direction and they are not there or not aware of their role, it places a bigger burden on the city’s leadership.
This is also true for new leaders in the organization. While many are still learning their employee’s names, they are also needing to learn everyone’s role in day-to-day operations and for emergency events. Combine the two problems – new leadership and new staff – and it creates a level of uncertainty.
In Mesquite, we are addressing this in a couple of ways. First, we are working to revise our emergency plans. These revisions require those new to the organization to read and understand the plans. It also helps bring new ideas to the organization. And then, we are exercising the plans. Such exercises help to familiarize staff on the levels of the resources available and their roles in an emergency. It also helps with day-to-day operations and learning the roles of other departments.
The other approach is revisiting our succession planning strategy. Prior to the pandemic we generally looked at employees and their potential to assume greater responsibilities. Once identified, we focused on leadership and management skill training with these employees and found opportunities to practice that training through additional responsibilities. Unfortunately, we now know that we have been too narrow in our focus when it comes to succession planning. We have looked at one or two individuals and not looked beyond those identified. When those that we have identified leave, we don’t have anyone ready to step up.
Our current efforts are to cast a wider net in our organization. We are working to identify opportunities during the hiring process to find those that might be able to advance or have the desire to learn. Once they are trained and accustomed to their role, we see how they respond to different assignments or activities. Informal committees and safety training have been a good resource for finding these individuals. We are increasing these opportunities whenever possible and having conversations earlier in the employee’s tenure.
We are also encouraging leadership to look outside their departments for opportunities. We have found great opportunities of finding good managers and leaders and placing them in other departments or divisions. Not only are we benefiting from their leadership development, but we also get a fresh perspective on the organization, policies, and procedures. This is creating some efficiencies and all-around better service.
Ultimately, as city managers, we should be looking at the long term when it comes to our organization. It seems the long term is now shorter than it used to be, but we must maintain the focus on our people and giving them opportunities to be successful.
SHAMELESS MEMBERSHIP PLUG – Succession planning should also include those that will be succeeding us in the future. It is never too early to start. Membership in TCMA is not only for city managers. It is for your department heads, assistant directors, and analysts. Anyone that may be leading your organization in the future will benefit from being a member of TCMA. Even if someone isn’t on a city manager track, they might end up there in the future. TCMA provides several resources that help members of your team understand city management better and could make them a better resource for you and your organization.
(Article submitted by Cliff Keheley, City Manager, Mesquite)
Handling "Right vs. Right" Ethical Dilemmas with Tact and Grace in City Management
As city managers, we often face challenging ethical dilemmas that require careful navigation. One such dilemma is the clash between "truth vs. loyalty," where the desire to be truthful conflicts with the need to maintain positive professional relationships. In situations like these, it is crucial for city managers to approach these dilemmas with tact and grace, exercising the principles outlined in the Behavioral Guidelines of Professional Relationships. This article aims to highlight the importance of these guidelines and their application in a specific case involving the examination of preexisting personnel policy.
Guideline 1: Enhancing Credibility of Colleagues
One of the primary guidelines of professional relationships is to enhance the credibility of our colleagues. When facing an ethical dilemma related to a predecessor's policies, it becomes essential to approach the issue with a focus on constructive feedback rather than personal attacks. By emphasizing the potential room for improvement and discussing the challenges faced, the credibility of the colleague can be maintained, while still addressing the issue at hand.
Guideline 2: Providing Important Information for Sound Decisions
In confronting the "truth vs. loyalty" dilemma, it is crucial to provide important information to colleagues involved, enabling them to make sound decisions. As city managers, our duty is to guide decision-making processes by sharing relevant facts, data, and analysis. Communicating the issues regarding health insurance and compensatory time accruals to colleagues can help them understand the long-term ramifications and foster a collaborative approach to finding sustainable solutions.
Guideline 3: Appropriate Recognition of Colleagues' Work
Recognizing the work of our colleagues is another essential facet of maintaining professional relationships, even when faced with "right vs. right" ethical dilemmas. In the context of evaluating preexisting policies, acknowledging the efforts and intentions of our predecessors becomes paramount. By focusing on building upon their work rather than undermining it, we can facilitate a more productive and respectful dialogue.
Approaching the Dilemma:
In our scenario, we are convinced that our predecessor's policies regarding health insurance and compensatory time accruals are ill-advised and unsustainable. Telling the truth about these issues may potentially cast a negative light on our predecessor's decisions. However, we firmly believe that handling the situation with tact and grace can yield positive outcomes.
The first step is to gather comprehensive and objective data supporting our concerns. This will allow us to present a well-rounded argument based on a solid foundation of facts. By focusing on the policy implications and the potential impact on the community, we can redirect the conversation away from individual shortcomings towards a discussion centered on the greater good.
When engaging with colleagues on this matter, it is crucial to adopt a collaborative and empathetic approach. Acknowledging the efforts made by our predecessor and recognizing the challenges they faced can set a more inclusive tone. By emphasizing that our aim is to build upon their work and create a sustainable future, it becomes easier to navigate the "right vs. right" ethical dilemma without unnecessarily criticizing their decisions.
In summary, professional city management requires us to confront challenging ethical dilemmas with tact and grace. The "right vs. right" dilemma of "truth vs. loyalty" demands that we approach it with the utmost care, maintaining our colleagues' credibility, providing essential information for sound decisions, and appropriately recognizing their work. By focusing on constructive criticism and emphasizing collaboration, we can address issues such as preexisting personnel policies without tarnishing professional relationships. Striking a delicate balance between truthfulness and loyalty exemplifies the professionalism and ethical standards expected of city managers, setting the stage for effective governance and positive outcomes for our communities.
(Article submitted by Joe Smolinski, City Manager, Mansfield)
October is Depression Awareness Month and October 10 is World Mental Health Day. TCMA would like to remind you as part of your membership benefit, you and your family have access to confidential counseling services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are many additional benefits to take advantage of including on demand webinars. For a brief overview, click Deer Oaks Program.
You can contact Deer Oaks at 888-99-7250 or visit the website and log into the TCMA portal at www.deeroakseap.com. The login and password is TCMA. You can also access services through the iConnectYou app in the Apple Store and Android Play Store with the code 231963.
Around the state
The TCMA Professional Development Committee met in the City of South Padre Island to plan educational events for 2024. The City hosted site visits for the selection of the Annual Conference Friday night event.
tcma educational EVENTS
Perspectives on City Management
Listen to episodes here.
Tex-ICMA Coaching Webinars
(For more information and to register, click here)
Career Pathways to Move Up the Local Government Ladder
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, October 19
What to Do When Everything is Falling Apart: How to Reset
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, November 16
Memos on Meetings
The Professional Development Committee met on August 30-September 1 in South Padre Island. Meeting minutes are available here.
The Advocacy Committee met on September 7 by video conference. Meeting minutes are available here.
The Allies Committee met on September 13 by video conference. Meeting minutes are available here.
The City Managers of Tomorrow Committee met on September 14 by video conference. Meeting minutes are available here.
The Ethics Committee met on September 21 by video conference. Meeting minutes are available here.
The Board met on September 22 in Austin. Meeting minutes are available here.