By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
As expected, San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz introduced former Midland City Manager Ricardo “Rick” Menchaca as the city’s next city manager at a Tuesday morning press conference.
“We are extremely excited about San Marcos’ bright future and believe we have found someone who shares our community values and not only is the best candidate, but the right person for the job,” Narvaiz said.
Menchaca’s selection as the lone finalist, first reported Wednesday night on The San Marcos Mercury, came at the end of a four-month process that drew 70 applications from across the nation. The city council reviewed nine resumes and picked out five candidates for interview — three on the recommendation of a search firm and two others at the council’s discretion.
The city council is expected to formally agree on Menchaca’s contract at a special meeting on April 30. The following day, May 1, is set as Menchaca’s first day on the job. The contract calls for Menchaca to earn a salary of $170,000.
Said Menchaca, “This community here, where it sits, not just physically, but also in its state of evolution, with the university (Texas State University), its education systems and its transportation systems, I believe it has the right, key ingredients to be the community it wants to be.”
Menchaca served as the city manager in Midland from January 2000 until May 2007.
Menchaca resigned his position in Midland following a tug-of-war with the city council, mostly due to conflicts concerning the Midland Police Department. After a Midland police officer’s dashboard video of a man’s pant falling down surfaced on the Internet, Menchaca and Police Chief John Urby clashed over discipline. The subsequent political fall-out ended with Urby and Menchaca both resigning. Menchaca reportedly received a severance package of $481,000.
If the episode weighed at all against Menchaca during the San Marcos search process, it made very little difference. Narvaiz said that as councilmembers went through the process of eliminating candidates at various meetings, Menchaca was the only one never crossed off the list. And when the city checked his references across Midland, he received glowing recommendations.
“Many offered to line up calls across Midland of people who wanted to talk about this man,” Narvaiz said.
Before becomming city manager in Midland, Menchaca held executive positions within the Midland city manager’s office, including assistant city manager and deputy city manager. Menchaca began his career in 1988 as a budget analyst for the city of Lubbock before moving on to Midland in 1990.
The new San Marcos city manager is married (his wife’s name is Kristin) with five children. He holds a bachelor of arts in government from San Angelo State and a masters in public administration from Texas Tech. Menchaca was born in Uvalde and graduated from high school in Del Rio.
Menchaca will manage a $136 million municipal budget and 517 employees. In addition to providing government services, the city also operates a retail electric utility and a water/wastewater utility.
Narvaiz credited the solicitation of citizen input at the start of the search process for generating a candidate profile that guided the process to the end. From that input, Narvaiz and the council learned that citizens wanted a certified, experienced city manager from a larger city.