Rick Menchaca, San Marcos’s new city manager, has hit the ground running. unanimously confirmed by the city council on April 30, Menchaca started work for the city the next day. Mr. Menchaca graciously granted Newstreamz an interview during his first busy weeks in office and we appreciate it. By this interview, we hope to give you the person behind the office.
Menchaca was born in Uvalde but grew up in Del Rio, the second of four sons. He credits his parents with being the most influential people in his life. “They gave us a solid foundation” by giving us “values.” His father, Arnold, was a band director and then a fraud investigator for the state welfare department. His mother, Aurora, worked for a school district. Since both of their retirements, they have served as ordained ministers.
Menchaca earned his B.A. from Angelo State University in 1986 majoring in Government and minoring in Finance. He earned his M.A. in Public Administration from Texas Tech University in 1988. A major influence on his career path as an undergraduate was when he was president of the Program Council. The council put on concerts and arranged speakers for the university.
As president, Menchaca had to work with college administrators and a range of student groups while at the same time negotiating with off campus organizations and representatives of speakers, bands, and orchestras. It’s obvious that he has happy memories of his work with that council at San Angelo. He went to Texas Tech because of its emphasis on local government. His parents and his education instilled in him the importance of “being part of the community” and “giving back to the community.”
As the first San Marcos city manager brought in from outside in over twenty five years, Menchaca realizes that “I need to relieve anxiety about change.” He noted that in the last few years, the city government has brought on a new municipal judge, city attorney, and city clerk and said “I hopefully bring a fresh perspective.” He promised to “live, breath, and eat San Marcos.”
Menchaca is aware of the expectations that he contribute to the progress of San Marcos from Day One but notes, “that comes with the job.” His over 19 years in municipal management should help in that regard. He began his career as a Budget Analyst for Lubbock in 1988 and served as a Trustee of the Texas Municipal Retirement System from 1995 to April 2008, having been appointed by then Gov. Bush and reappointed by Gov. Perry. From 1990 to 2007, Menchaca served in the city government of Midland, holding such positions as Deputy City Manager and Assistant City Manager before serving as city manager for that city from 2000 to 2007. Menchaca is also the past president of the Urban Management Assistants of West Texas and the past president of the West Texas Managers Association.
Menchaca’s management style is people oriented both in terms of citizens and employees. to do the job well, he needs to “understand the community” by talking to the citizens, city staff, and the city council. he believes that any organization “is as good as the people employed in it” and said the city government had “a great crew.” He wants to reward staff and “give them autonomy to make decisions. Decisions need to be made at the lowest level possible.” He also wants to “provide opportunities for growth and advancement.” As a general rule, he will try to follow national best practices.
Menchaca is going to work to diversify the economic base, thereby diversifying the tax base, and improve transportation linkages. Organizationally, he wants the city government to be performance driven and one that is focused on the council.
Our new city manager is upbeat about the San Marcos and Texas economies but the city is making prudent growth projections. Menchaca observes that people are continuing to move to the Sun Belt and “are still moving into this area.” Menchaca argues that San Marcos is “the center of everything” and points to San Marcos and the region’s retail, medical,
educational, and recreational opportunities. The goal for Menchaca will be to position San Marcos strategically to take advantage of the opportunities that will be coming in the future while protecting the things that brought us here in the first place.
Menchaca and his wife Kristin have five children ranging in age form 5 to 14 and they will be moving here when the school year is over and will transfer to the SMCISD in the fall. San Marcos “was the heart of the area” his wife was interested in having their family live and for Menchaca, “the professional opportunity was exciting.” They both felt San Marcos was “a great location” due to its quality of life, recreational opportunities, and the university.
Rick Menchaca is very excited about being the city manager of San Marcos. He says that the “community is in a growth mode” and there are 95% more positive than negative things happening in our community. If he could be the city manager of any city in the USA, the city would be San Marcos. in his words, “the city has character” and “this is the job you dream” of having.
By ED MIHALKANIN, Ph. D
Audio interview of Rick Menchaca by Ed Mihalkanin