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January 25th, 2008
EDITORIAL: Selecting a city manager a seminal decision for San Marcos

As a city, we now face the process of selecting a new city manager. The consultants, selected by our city council to help us in this process, are reaching out to engage us, as a community, to understand what we expect to see in our new city leader.

San Marcos has, as part of its city charter, chosen to be a city manager not a mayoral form of government. Across the state of Texas many growing cities have historically chosen this form of leadership to provide consistent management of their ever increasing budget and staff to better serve a growing population. This year, our city’s budget exceeds $134 million, not an inconsequential sum of money. We must all remember that these are our hard earned dollars that are being spent to make San Marcos the best place in the world to both live and work.

Would it be wise to entrust unpaid politicians to handle the day to day spending of our money?

A city manager form of government keeps the day to day decisions in the hands of professionals, not politicians. We are a city on the grow with lots to take pride in. We have an unsurpassed history, being the longest populated location in North America. This area has been permanently inhabited for the last 25,000 years and it would be unwise to let the political whims of unpaid local politicians take us in a direction that would destroy our community and our environment for the benefit of campaign contributors and/or personal gain.

Our City Manager should be a strong leader, a figurehead of our community to not only those considering investment or relocation within San Marcos but to those of us who live and work here every day. He or she should be someone we can put our trust in to provide stabilizing leadership to the many wonderful and dedicated members of the city staff who work diligently to make our lives productive and meaningful. He or she should have a professional’s ability not only to manage the details of the city, but also the ability to keep the overarching vision of the city before all the citizens without letting petty politics tarnish that vision. We must select someone who will not cower to pressure of political persuasion just to maintain their job. We are the most culturally diverse community along the corridor, something that we should be proud of. Our new city manager must understand the value that this diversity offers to make our city unique.

Our city council members are elected to direct our city’s policies. This means they direct our City Manager and staff by oversight only. They are not elected to enter into day to day administration nor detailed negotiation on our behalf. Those negotiations are to be handled by professionals, not someone moonlighting with potentially other interests at heart. Each of our council members, disappointingly not even earning a stipend for their time on our behalf, have jobs of their own just to make their own personal ends meet. They are just like us, ordinary individuals who have chosen to represent each of us and all of us, equally in their capacity. The administration of our city should not be left to the ever-changing whim of our elected officials.

If city actions are driven by politicians, we subject ourselves to a pendulum of reaction, not a strategic and consistent path — which I believe is a must to make San Marcos great.

I would hope that during this process each of you will become engaged and involved and express your thoughts in vocal ways to help us make this decision as a community for the benefit of each of us.

We will meet to share our thoughts and concerns over who will be the Chief Executive Officer of San Marcos for sometime to come on Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Activity Center. Given that we will be a city of 250,000 in the foreseeable future, we should select someone who has led a city of that size. When Dell Computer selected a Chief Financial Officer years ago when they were smaller, they tapped a person who had been a Chief Financial Officer of a $6 billion corporation, someone already trained and with experience.

We need someone who knows what it takes to run a city of a quarter million people. With this type of growth being inevitable, it is crucial to make certain we have the focused leadership and resolve to withstand short-term political pressures to lead us into the future, understanding the desires of our citizenry to keep the uniqueness of our city intact.


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0 thoughts on “EDITORIAL: Selecting a city manager a seminal decision for San Marcos

  1. I am disappointed but not surprised that our Mayor and City Council have not proactively communicated with the community regarding where things now stand in the search for a new City Manager.

    Are we trying to quickly shoehorn somebody into that position during the next few months? Will the new elected leadership or the existing elected leadership make the decision?

    I sure hope we have a more open and forthcoming elected leadership after the November 2010 elections. Regarding the new City Manager search, we must demand a better process if we want better results.

  2. Was true. Still is. Will be for some time. But right now, we need to break the continuity at City Hall of having only a political, not a community, agenda. Only then can we re-establish a one for all, all for one course toward what should be a future growing out of and consistent with our history. Otherwise, think Selma or Schertz, Katy or Round Rock–
    not that there is any problem with their growing as they have chosen, but we need to consider what we give up and what we gain by playing “monkey see, monkey do.” (It’s not just $$$, and not just math. It is quality of life. And of course, ongoing affordability, including habitat affordability for what BP refers to as “the little people.”)

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