Eight can­di­dates re­main in the run­ning to be the next city man­ager.

6 in­ter­nal ap­pli­cants among group aim­ing to re­place Scul­ley

San Antonio Express-News - - FRONT PAGE - By Josh Baugh STAFF WRITER

The City Coun­cil whit­tled down a list of 23 can­di­dates for the city man­ager’s job to eight, in­clud­ing all six in­ter­nal ap­pli­cants.

The eight will un­dergo ad­di­tional in­ter­views early next week. By late Tues­day, the field will be re­duced to two or three can­di­dates, who will be in­ter­viewed again Wednes­day. Mayor Ron Niren­berg said the coun­cil will select a lone fi­nal­ist to re­place City Man­ager Sh­eryl Scul­ley af­ter the se­cond round of in­ter­views.

Scul­ley an­nounced that she was re­tir­ing soon af­ter the Nov. 6 elec­tion, when vot­ers over­whelm­ingly ap­proved a propo­si­tion that sets a salary cap and ten­ure limit for fu­ture city man­agers. While the propo­si­tion doesn’t af­fect her, it was widely seen as a ref­er­en­dum of Scul­ley’s com­pen­sa­tion. With a $475,000 base salary and up to $100,00 in per­for­mance-based bonus, she is the high­est-paid city man­ager in the na­tion.

Dur­ing her 13-year ten­ure, Scul­ley worked for four may­ors and over­saw a de­part­ment of about 12,000 em­ploy­ees and a bud­get of about $2.7 bil­lion. She is cred­ited with im­prov­ing city fi­nances and ser­vices; she has stew­arded three mas­sive bond projects, im­ple­mented the Pre-K 4 SA pro­gram that’s hailed as a model and brought a bud­get­ing ap­proach that has en­abled the city to main­tain a triple-A bond rat­ing, among nu­mer­ous other ac­com­plish­ments.

But her crit­ics saw an over­paid man­ager who wielded too much power and mis­han­dled re­la­tions with the fire union by haul­ing it

into court.

Niren­berg said the eight can­di­dates are a di­verse group that in­cludes na­tional and even in­ter­na­tional can­di­dates.

“We know it’s a high-pro­file and highly at­trac­tive po­si­tion from within the in­dus­try, so it’s no sur­prise that we’ve got qual­i­fied can­di­dates in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally,” he said. “We feel like we have a good pool of can­di­dates to select from.”

The six in­ter­nal can­di­dates are deputy city man­agers Erik Walsh and Peter Zanoni and as­sis­tant city man­agers Car­los Con­tr­eras, Maria Vil­lagómez, Lori Hous­ton and Rod Sanchez.

The only two ex­ter­nal can­di­dates to make the cut are re­tired Las Ve­gas Deputy City Man­ager Or­lando Sanchez and Dal­las As­sis­tant City Man­ager Ma­jed AlGhafry. The lat­ter pre­vi­ously served as San An­to­nio’s pub­lic works di­rec­tor be­fore go­ing to Dal­las, where he now works for an­other for­mer San An­to­nio as­sis­tant city man­ager, T.C. Broad­nax.

Coun­cil­man Rey Sal­daña said it’s no sur­prise that all six in­ter­nal can­di­dates were in­vited to the next step in the process. Niren­berg and oth­ers have said Scul­ley was pushed years ago to build a suc­ces­sion plan. In do­ing so, she gave op­por­tu­ni­ties to her as­sis­tants to take on ma­jor is­sues, Sal­daña said.

“It should be no sur­prise to any­one who fol­lows the city of San An­to­nio that we’ve got a strong slate of can­di­dates who are in­ter­nal,” he said.

In fact, he said, those six could vie for any big-city man­ager po­si­tion that opened up any­where in the coun­try.

“It’s a tes­ta­ment to Sh­eryl Scul­ley’s prepa­ra­tion for suc­ces­sion plan­ning,” he said.

The can­di­dates

Walsh is widely seen as the lead­ing can­di­date. He be­gan his ca­reer with the city nearly 25 years ago as a bud­get an­a­lyst and has over­seen the high­est-pro­file de­part­ments, in­clud­ing po­lice and fire, and has han­dled col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions and high-pro­file con­tracts for years. His port­fo­lio in­cludes nearly a third of the city’s $2.8 bil­lion an­nual bud­get.

Zanoni, also a deputy city man­ager, pre­vi­ously served as an as­sis­tant city man­ager and bud­get di­rec­tor. A na­tive of Mex­ico, Maine, Zanoni has worked for the city since 1997.

Con­tr­eras, a lawyer, noted in his cover let­ter that he’s a sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion San An­to­nian who has worked in both the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors. He’s been seen as one of Scul­ley’s trusted go-to as­sis­tants, some­one who can han­dle dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions.

Vil­lagómez, a cer­ti­fied pub­lic ac­coun­tant, un­der­scored in her let­ter to the coun­cil that she has deep ex­pe­ri­ence in han­dling the city’s fi­nances. Her ca­reer in San An­to­nio be­gan in 1997.

Hous­ton started as a mu­nic­i­pal in­tern in 2002 be­fore land­ing a full-time job with the then-Pub­lic Works De­part­ment in 2004. She’s since worked her way through the ranks and was named an as­sis­tant city man­ager in July 2015.

Rod Sanchez, now an as­sis­tant city man­ager, made a name for him­self serv­ing as the di­rec­tor of the city’s De­vel­op­ment Ser­vices De­part­ment, which stayed in his port­fo­lio when he was pro­moted. He joined city staff in 1993 as a bud­get and man­age­ment an­a­lyst and notes in his cover let­ter that he’s a na­tive San An­to­nian.

Al-Ghafry has ties to San An­to­nio, though he’s cur­rently an as­sis­tant city man­ager in Dal­las, where he over­sees the wa­ter de­part­ment, pub­lic works, trans­porta­tion, sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and con­struc­tion and other in­fra­struc­ture-re­lated ar­eas, in­clud­ing high-speed rail, ac­cord­ing to his re­sume.

From 2008 to 2013, Al-Ghafry over­saw San An­to­nio’s pub­lic works de­part­ment, which was folded into what’s now known as Trans­porta­tion and Cap­i­tal Im­prove­ments. He then served as an as­sis­tant city man­ager in El Ca­jon, Calif., be­fore land­ing the job in Dal­las.

Or­lando Sanchez, the re­tired Las Ve­gas deputy city man­ager, held that po­si­tion for 12 years, dur­ing which time he over­saw fire and res­cue, pub­lic safety, mu­nic­i­pal courts, pub­lic works, parks and re­cre­ation, hu­man re­sources and other city de­part­ments.

The process

Af­ter the fi­nal­ist is made pub­lic, city of­fi­cials will be­gin work­ing with the can­di­date to do pub­lic out­reach, in­clud­ing a pub­lic sym­po­sium that will al­low in­ter­ac­tion with res­i­dents, ten­ta­tively sched­uled for Jan. 23.

Niren­berg ex­pects the coun­cil will vote on the next city man­ager Jan. 31.

Scul­ley has said she would stay on as long as nec­es­sary to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion, though she won’t stay past June 30.

If the coun­cil opts for one of the in­ter­nal can­di­dates, the tran­si­tion likely won’t take as long.

The ap­point­ment of the next city man­ager will re­quire a su­per­ma­jor­ity vote, mean­ing that at least eight coun­cil mem­bers must vote in fa­vor of the can­di­date. Art Hall, the in­terim District 2 coun­cil­man, will be on the dais for that vote. Though he was ap­pointed and sworn in Thurs­day, he re­ceived seven af­fir­ma­tive votes, which means he can’t take his seat on the dais for 10 days. How­ever, the coun­cil now plans to vote Mon­day to change the ef­fec­tive date of his ap­point­ment so he can par­tic­i­pate in the man­ager in­ter­view process.

Niren­berg said Fri­day that he ex­pects a su­per-ma­jor­ity of the coun­cil to ap­prove the mea­sure, as re­quired by city code.

“We feel like we have a good pool of can­di­dates to select from.”

Bob Owen / Staff file photo

By late Tues­day, the field to re­place City Man­ager Sh­eryl Scul­ley will be cut to two or three can­di­dates from eight.

Or­lando Sanchez


Rod Sanchez






Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.